Curren, “Michael Knight.” Over producer Ski Beatz’s pairing of kung fu movie music and elegant G-funk, New-York-by-way-of-New-Orleans rapper Curren crams three casually intricate verses into less than three minutes—and finds a place for a delightfully absurd Knight Rider-referencing hook, complete with KITT sound effects. Filled with pothead punchlines (“I got high enough so I could autograph the sky”), wonky wordplay (“car windows” rhymed with “Carl Winslow”), and a few marvels of internal rhyming (“Everything with wings ain’t a plane, man” via his Southern accent becomes “Everythayng with wayngs ain’t a plane mayne”), this track from next month’s Pilot Talk 2 is more strangely beautiful, deceptively simple, chill-out rap from a guy getting ridiculously good at this sort of thing. Brandon Soderberg
The Fresh & Onlys, “Waterfall.” The Fresh & Onlys’s new album, Play It Strange, provides a trip back to the early 1980s—but without the Reaganomics or those regrettable haircuts. The track “Waterfall” is an excellent Joy Division-R.E.M. hybrid: spindly guitars; chugging, hypnotic drums; and vocals that seem to have been recorded miles away from the music. It’s a song about the war between television and radio, and what each medium says about the other. While that may sound silly, the Fresh & Onlys makes it both poignant and heartbreaking. Even the Buggles can’t claim to have achieved that. Michael Kilpatrick
The Go! Team, “T.O.R.N.A.D.O.” The chaos that punctuates almost every track in the Go! Team’s back catalogue has effectively become their calling card, which allows the Brighton-based sextet to do whatever they like without being labelled sloppy or disordered. “T.O.R.N.A.D.O.” is our first taste of their upcoming third album, and though it was purported to explore a darker dimension of the group’s boisterous breakbeat pop-hop, it sounds just as colorful as what we’ve grown accustomed to. A pulsating drumbeat underpins mariachi horns and Ninja’s lo-fi call to arms, perhaps the most frantic and frenzied two minutes you’ll hear this year. Huw Jones
Jamiroquai, “Blue Skies” and “White Knuckle Ride.” Renowned for our stiff upper lip, the British are not exactly a funky bunch. So when Jay Kay and his merry men burst onto London’s acid-jazz scene in the early ’90s, they were welcomed with open arms and dropped jaws. Their latest album, Rock Dust Light Star, is spearheaded by two singles: the soulful “Blue Skies” and the electro-tinged, disco-boogie number “White Knuckle Ride.” The former reveals Jay Kay’s softer side, a ballad in which the singer flaunts his falsetto atop gentle acoustic guitar and warm strings. The latter, then, is nothing if not your emblematic Jamiroquai track: foot-loose, funky, and oh-so-infectious. Between them, these singles hint at the Jamiroqaui’s latest long player being an extremely interesting affair, rousing a more human and sober beast without ditching their enticing dance-floor sensibilities. HJ
This article was originally published on The House Next Door.