“Dianne Young” by Vampire Weekend

The perfect summer song, “Dianne Young” (a purposeful homophone for “dyin’ young”) addresses the inherent recklessness of youth with equal parts coy sarcasm and ambivalent allowance (“If dyin’ young won’t change your mind, baby, right on time”). Vampire Weekend has crafted a realist anthem to a shortsighted approach to life, offering up a song that has the same qualities: undeniably fun, ultimately tragic, and essentially empty. Richard Clark



“Started From The Bottom” by Drake

If you can stomach the profanity, you’ll find a contagious appreciation in Drake’s ode to accomplishment. A restrained acknowledgement of how far we’ve come, the song oscillates from humility to pride from one lyric to the next. During a time when most hip-hop is about the inherent struggles with fame, Drake’s being real while making attempts to be right. Richard Clark



“It was a Dark and Stormy Night” by Five Iron Frenzy

For me, this song represents the resurrection of ska. It brings about the intelligence, humor, and clear-cut evangelical tones which represent Five Iron Frenzy and their artistic quality. Chris Hutton



“22” by Taylor Swift

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this song. I love the musical idea (the attempted representation of my age group) but I dislike its shallow and (mostly) feminine lyrical elements, which make the lives of 22-year-olds seem much less interesting than they should be. Chris Hutton



“Elephant” by Jason Isbell

Maybe the best song off of my favorite album of 2013 (so far). “Elephant”  is an absolutely heartbreaking song about a young couple dealing with cancer. Emotionally vulnerable and brilliantly crafted, it consistently makes me cry. Nick Rynerson



“Running For Cover” by Ivan & Alyosha

This song from Ivan & Alyosha’s debut LP is a beautiful look at man’s fallen condition. The lyrics “If I could see the garden place/Before the fall where things had changed/I wasn’t there and neither were you/But I take the blame and so should you my friend” get me every time. Nick Rynerson



“The One That Got Away” by The Civil Wars

The duo’s comeback single is a welcome return with powerful vocals and more intense instrumentation. It jumps right to the bitter end of a summer romance with a desperate reflection of the choices that led a couple into their present entanglement . Jennifer Shaheen



“Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Ray

This is a great track from The Great Gatsby soundtrack. It’s a dramatic but haunting ballad about the transient yet eternal nature of romantic love. Jennifer Shaheen



“Brennisteinn” by Sigur Rós

The first single from their new album takes the angelic and ethereal sounds that we’ve come to know and love from Sigur Rós, and roughs them up quite a bit with skronky electronics and clattering percussion. The result is dark, turbulent, and thunderous — and one of the best things the band has written in years. Jason Morehead



“Evil Coast” by The Mary Onettes

On their latest album, Hit The Waves, The Mary Onettes team up with producer Dan Lissvik, who brings a sweeping, balearic sound to the band’s ‘80s-indebted blend of synth-pop and post-punk. The result is some of the band’s finest, most cinematic work to date. Jason Morehead


Photo by David Yousling.