After years of being meticulous about my iPod — only classic cuts allowed, no fat, no late-night regrets with Right Said Fred — my digital player has lately become like my bachelor-pad refrigerator. Sure, there are a few delicious Granny Smiths in there, some luxury cheese, too. But there's also a small village of take-out Chinese food that's developing the evolutionary ability to move. It's cleaning time.
Same goes for my iPod. It's a minefield of mediocrity, mainly because I'm an indiscriminate downloader. If it's free on iTunes, I'm on it. I'll also buy random songs for my job's sake — whether I actually listen to them is another story. For all the junkola on there, though, I take great pleasure in discovering something I forgot I had, a What is this lil' beauty? moment.
So while cleansing my iPod this week, here are a few new keepers. All are available on iTunes.
Gold Mine, Breanne Duren (from the album Sparks): This one starts out sounding like vintage '84 Cars, but soon turns into a '90s alt-pop Belly jam. The Twin Cities gal — and good pal of Owl City — is 23 with a 16-year-old's cutie-pie voice. It's one of those indie-gal-makes-good singalongs, and if you don't like it, your girlfriend certainly will.
Two Against One, Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat. Jack White (from the album Rome): My crush on Danger Mouse, the genre-splicing producer and quiet half of Gnarls Barkley, has become a rampant office joke. But there's a reason for our imagined bromance, and that's because everything the man touches, whether it's with Gnarls or Broken Bells or the Gorillaz, sounds dazzling, dreamlike, different. This collabo pairs him with composer Luppi, as they pay homage to Italian film music. Musicians from Ennio Morricone classic scores show up, as do guests Norah Jones and White, who here provides a snarly vocal over spy movie-cool walking music.
The Game Has Changed, Daft Punk (from the album Tron: Legacy): This is not unlike Tangerine Dream's classic electro-pulsing sound track for Risky Business — that is, if Tom Cruise were running from Guido the Killer Cyborg. Yes, it's overwrought futuristic foofaraw, but it's also genuinely stirring, a testament to the French duo's tech derring-do and sneaky heart.
The Hunger, Shirley Manson & Serj Tankian: This benefit single from rock musical Prometheus Bound is marked "explicit" and that makes sense considering the sources. Garbage femme fatale Manson and System of a Down's Tankian often had no use for niceties — that is, before they dropped off the face of the earth. Nice to have 'em back, even if this dark, Nine Inch Nails-type cut stays a little too droney. Proceeds benefit Amnesty International.
4th of July, Shooter Jennings (from the album Put the 'O' Back in Country): Okay, this one isn't new, but it is awesome, a 2005 rumbler from Waylon's kid that sneaks up on you with anthemic swoon. I forgot how much I love this shoulda-been smash, about two lovers riding 'cross country, outrunning their past and putting their future on hold. This romp will instantly improve your day — and your next holiday barbecue.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.