Guided By Voices, “Doughnut for a Snowman.” At just under two minutes, “Doughnut for a Snowman” recalls gentler, laidback numbers like “Peep-Hole” and “King and Caroline” from Guided By Voices’ classic Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes LPs, respectively. Like those songs, it packs an emotional punch due in part to its briefness, quickly yet carefully relaying the odd story of an already semi-unstable woman who experiences an awful day, beginning with a breakup of sorts and climaxing with her throwing a Krispy Kreme doughnut at an innocent sidewalk snowman. (I could be wrong, but decrypting frontman Robert Pollard’s lyrics is half the fun.) Musically, there’s some wonderful stuff here: From the opening moments of whimsical flute notes to the incomparable synchronicity of Pollard and Tobin Sprout’s vocal interlacing as the track comes to an appropriately abrupt close. Mike LeChevallier
Escort, “Caméleon Chameleon (Club Remix).” My biggest complaint about this delightfully idiotic, cowbell-spangled neo-disco thumper is that it fades out during what should be the set-down-your-drinks-and-cinch-up-your-halter, stripped-to-the-bone percussive breakdown. You almost want it to fade back in with a triumphant flourish of timbale, vibraslap, and cuíca. Nonetheless, one suspects Herbie Hancock and his Headhunters would approve of stalwart Brooklyn duo Escort’s tight, lightheaded dance-floor dessert, thanks to the perseverance of that chk-chk rhythm guitar work and the ditzy, playful cadence of that title. They almost make it sound palindromic. Eric Henderson
Carina Round, “The Last Time.” The lead single from Carina Round’s forthcoming album (due out next spring) doesn’t stray far from the formula established on her last few solo releases (verses built from crisp, clean percussion, spare guitars, and unaffected vocals leading to explosive choruses), but even if it’s no big leap for the underrated British singer-songwriter (for that, check out the B-side, “The Ghost and the Girl,” remixed by Puscifer), it’s a welcome return to form following Round’s lackluster Early Winters side project. The song’s wonderfully wobbly upright bassline is only exceeded by a chilling breakdown that pairs Round’s supernatural voice with eerily yawning guitars. Sal Cinquemani
Morris Cowan & Duncan Edward Jones, “Thermal.” Like Matthew Dear in a particularly warm and fuzzy mood, Morris Cowan (who already released one of the year’s strongest debut albums—the dynamic, techy headphone workout Circa—back in March) kicks off his Strands EP with some seriously sizeable swank. Cowan builds off echoing, slow-rolling, 105-BPM disco-majestic pulsations with increasingly claustrophobic plumes of glowing clouds until the apparatus truly can’t seem to support anymore. Then, two minutes in, he drops double-tracked vocals from Duncan Edward Jones unnervingly close to your eardrums. “Thermal” is a squelching, incredibly textured, mountain-sized soufflé that somehow avoids total collapse. EH
House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks.