If Northern California is Quannum territory, Tres Records is quickly taking over the L.A. underground hip-hop scene, and this trio has to count as its top act. Unlike many instrumental rap crews, Panda packs light; thin, nimble beats play counterpoint to unpredictable, often hilarious vocal conceits, and no track ends where it began.
He might keep a lax tone throughout his detached raps, but his "I'm-not-really-trying" vibe syncs perfectly with the dancefloor-devastating beats that sound like they take from every dark corner of every subgenre of EDM and hip-hop. "Day N Night" is a great track that fits perfectly with the leftist dance/hip-hop vibe of Cudi's new label home: DJ A-Trak's Fool's Gold.
It's no short order opening for Ms. Norah Jones, but her Blue Note labelmate Lee has lately been pulling it off with aplomb. The Philly native's disarming soul-folk sound suggests Neil Young gone R&B or the great ballad record Ben Harper will never make. Most impressive of all, Lee's voice can match Jones's note-for-note on the scale of hushed intimacy.
Not to be confused with the several other Wolf-themed bands popping up lately, these are the indie darlings you've been looking for, so hear them while they're hot. Hailing from Montreal (where else?), Wolf Parade bear the torch the Arcade Fire lit, mixing anguished vocals with collapsing guitars and drums fit for an army.
Pronounced "Feeds" not "Feds," this Ed Banger master of the megamix (who produces and also apparently goes out with fellow Bangite, Uffie), appears on the third volume of the compilation that's consistently given the French label bragging rights. Using vocal snippets and unforgettable basslines is Feadz's calling card--and a good one at that.