Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Minotaur Shock - Accelerated Footage

I was a little late to the game when it comes to discovering Minotaur Shock (aka U.K.-based electronic musician David Edwards). I remember hearing a couple of remixes that he did and thinking they were cool, but I didn't stumble across his album Maritime until a year or two after it had been released. I'm definitely glad I did though. For the most part he produces fairly chilled out instrumental tracks, often mixing in horns, violins and other instrumentation. I could see this being too close to techno for some people, and too aimlessly ambient for others, but somehow it hits the right sweet spot for me. Each song has just enough of a hook to keep me coming back for more. You can download the new album Amateur Dramatics over on the official site for about $12 U.S., or you can pay for individual songs based on complex criteria such as technical difficulty, additional musicians and replay value! How's that for putting a price tag on art?

» Bonus Track: BATS
» Buy it online

Polysics - Digital Coffee

Every time I turn around, there's a wacky new album from Tokyo's Polysics out there, waiting to be discovered -- the only problem is tracking down an actual copy of it. Although they've had a few brief brushes with North American success, for the most part they are just content to pump out new releases over in Japan where they have a pretty big following (their label, Ki/oon Records, is owned by Sony). Their last two albums, Karate House, and now We Ate The Machine, have both been released on MySpace Records here in North America, but I don't think many people have had a chance to hear them. We Ate The Machine is their 8th full length album, and they certainly aren't showing any signs of mellowing out (the track "Digital Coffee" is about as appropriately titled as you can get). I'm pretty stoked to be seeing these guys in Toronto next month to ring in my 30th birthday!

» Bonus Track: Blue Noise
» Bonus Track: Pretty Good
» Buy it on Amazon

Monday, October 06, 2008

El Ten Eleven - Fat Gym Riot

El Ten Eleven are a two-piece band from L.A. who play instrumental music with an ethereal and futuristic sheen to it. Tim Forgarty lays down the drums, while Kristian Dunn plays a killer doubleneck guitar/bass. Although their music is sometimes mistaken for being electronic, they make a point of keeping it strictly to guitar, bass and drums filtered through various effects pedals. Their new album These Promises Are Being Videotaped was released in July, and is supposedly an attempt to take things in a "dancier" direction. But hey, if you ask me, there's no reason why you couldn't dance to their first two albums either! Seriously, if you haven't heard these guys yet, check 'em out, especially if you're a fan of Trans Am or Turing Machine. They even threw in a Radiohead cover on their latest album... how can you resist?

» Bonus Track: Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover)
» Buy it on Amazon

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Spinto Band - Vivian, Don't

Delaware's The Spinto Band have been holding it down for almost 10 years now, but it wasn't until their song "Oh Mandy" became a bit of an underground hit a couple of years ago that they really started to get noticed. After that they went out on tour with a bunch of high-profile acts including the Arctic Monkeys, Art Brut and We Are Scientists, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now they are finally ready to follow-up on that success with a new album, and yes, friends, Moonwink is almost upon us. It offers more of the same kooky melodies, jangly guitars and faint synth hooks, sort of like a gentler, cuter version of Pavement if Stephen Malkmus really had cut his hair after all. This is the kind of poppy indie rock that you shouldn't have to feel guilty about loving. Moonwink will be out on September 9th via Park The Van Records.

» Bonus Track: Needlepoint
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Monday, August 11, 2008

sBACH - Track 6

Although the deranged duo of Spencer Seim and Zach Hill (known collectively as Hella) have not put anything to tape since last year's There's No 666 in Outer Space, Seim himself has finally emerged from the alternate dimension in which they exist to record a new album all on his own. The curious name he has chosen for this project is sBACH (Skid Row reference or coincidence? You decide).

If you are at all familiar with Seim's work on the latter half of Hella's 2005 double album Church Gone Wild / Chirpin' Hard, you'll have a pretty good idea of what this sounds like. Basically it's all of the chaos and experimental insanity of Hella, minus Hill's warp speed drumming, but with plenty of 8-bit synthesizer added on top. I'm sure it'll be a bit too grating for some listeners, but somehow I found myself hooked within the first couple of tracks. Now if we could just get Seim back together with The Advantage for another album of good old-fashioned NES covers, life would be pretty much perfect. sBACH will be released on August 19th via Suicide Squeeze Records.

» Bonus Track: Track 12
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Explorers Club - Hold Me Tight

I've been looking forward to hearing a full-length album from The Explorers Club ever since they released their first self-titled EP back in 2006. They have since signed to Dead Oceans and put together Freedom Wind, 12 tracks of 60's-tinged pop music made for hot summer days at the beach and romantic nights with a cool breeze blowing in.

These guys do the Beach Boys sound better than just about anyone else out there, but be warned... this is not the Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys that Animal Collective and various other bands have latched onto lately. The Explorers Club draw from earlier, more traditional Beach Boys material. The number of slower ballads on the album might turn some people off, but if you're in the mood for catchy vocal harmonies, then look no further. Freedom Wind was released back in May and is in stores now.

» Bonus Track: Forever
» Buy it on Amazon

Koufax - Strugglers

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a couple of weeks ago that Koufax will be releasing a new album in September called Strugglers. If you ask me, not enough people have heard this band and I was beginning to think they had broken up for good. They kind of got the shaft after being dropped from Vagrant Records when their album Social Life failed to sell as many records as bands like The Get Up Kids... go figure. Rob and Ryan Pope actually played in the band at one point too.

If you're into poppy piano ballads and dreamy synthesizers, this is one band you definitely must check out. Considering the fact that they sound kind of similar to Spoon, I'm surprised they haven't completely lit up the blogosphere by now. This title track is our first taste of the new album that will be available on September 23rd. A digital single for the song "Any Moment Now" will also be released on August 5th.

» Bonus Track: Let Us Know (from Social Life)
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #16

They say great things come to those who wait, and while I'm not sure that totally applies in this case, I do apologize for the long wait. The important thing is that we're back with another eclectic mix of songs to keep your head bopping and your street cred fully intact. While Zak is once again absent, he did contribute a set of music for this episode that he assures me is suitably obscure. Believe it... the next Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape is only a click away!

Islands - J'aime Vous Voire Quitter
Ratatat - Mirando
Crazy Q - Local Hero
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Day Tripper
Au - Are Animals
Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook
Sloan - Witches Wand
Langhorne Slim - Hello Sunshine
Spoon - All I Got Is Me
The Hold Steady - Magazines
Nick Lowe - No Reason
The Memories Attack - Murmur
Hercules & Love Affair - True False, Fake Real
Subtle - Exit ARM
Titus Andronicus - Upon Viewing Brueghel's Landscape WIth the Fall Of Icarus
Retribution Gospel Choir - Destroyer
Wolf Parade - California Dreamer

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weezer - Meri Kuri (BoA cover)

The excitement surrounding Weezer's triumphant comeback has long since faded, leaving fans with the difficult task of deciding whether post-Pinkerton Weezer still qualifies as Weezer, as opposed to a group of imposters touring under the same name. While there is certainly some familiarity to be found in their new material, and leeway should be granted for line-up changes and the evolution of their sound, I can't help but feel that something crucial was lost along the way.

No, The Red Album is not the return to form that some people were hoping for, but at this point I'm pretty much convinced that such a return will never come. What it does have is a handful of better than average songs ("Pork and Beans", "Troublemaker" and "Dreamin'"), and a few tracks where other band members take their turns singing, which is a nice change of pace. Sadly, Rivers' lyrics have long since stopped being quirky and endearing and are now just completely cheesy. Perhaps that's why I dig this cover of Korean pop star BoA, where the lyrics aren't in English anyway! "Meri Kuri" is a bonus track on the Japanese version of The Red Album, and one of 5 or 6 b-sides that you can currently find floating around out there on the world wide web.

» Buy it on Amazon

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mates of State - Now

As much as it can be a disappointment when some musicians refuse to evolve or progress their sound over time, I find that there are always certain bands that I simply don't want to see change. I'd much rather have them continue doing the same thing that they've been doing since day one. For me, Mates of State are one of those bands. This husband and wife duo have been writing cute and catchy pop songs for over 10 years now, using primarily a piano/organ and drums combination.

It seems like an unwritten rule that most two piece bands must eventually give in and add more members and instruments to vary their sound, but Mates of State have resisted this kind of progression and I'm totally okay with that. Their new album Re-Arrange Us may not be the strongest material they've ever written, but it definitely won't alienate any fans, and I can tell you with some certainty that I'm probably going to be listening to it all summer long. Re-Arrange Us hits stores this Tuesday (May 20th).

» Bonus Track: The Re-Arranger
» Buy it on Amazon

The Shins - Wipe My Butt

So I just finished watching Season One of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have nightmares for the next few weeks. In case you haven't heard of it, it's a non-animated Adult Swim series that serves up some of the weirdest comedy sketches ever created, drawing inspiration from the awkward and lo-fi brilliance of public access TV and YouTube.

For those who have already watched Season Two as well and find that they still want more, the clever marketing team over at Adult Swim have cooked up a little something extra for you. Tim and Eric Awesome Record, Great Songs! Volume One is a two-disc compilation that features all of the music from the show, including a few moderately amusing covers -- such as this version of "Wipe My Butt" performed by The Shins! Some of the songs stand on their own quite well, although for most of them, the accompanying visuals are essential for the full experience.

P.S. You can also find some additional tracks for free download on Tim and Eric's website.

» Bonus Track: Pizza Boy (feat. David Cross)
» Bonus Track: Sports!
» Buy it from Williams Street

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Muzak For Cybernetics... Muxtape?

I know it's already been another two months since I posted the last Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape, but in the meantime I thought I would offer a compromise of sorts. Muxtape.com is a cool new web service that allows you to upload MP3s to create an online mixtape that you can share with friends. A lot of people are predicting that it's only a matter of time before the site is either (a) shut down by the RIAA, or (b) deemed uncool by the hipster elite. The way things are going, it appears that (b) may actually happen first, but whatever... there's something about the simplicity and the spirit of the site that I really dig. I have chosen 12 tracks that are sort of loosely inspired by my recent trip to California... loosely being the key word. Enjoy.

» Listen to the Muzak For Cybernetics Muxtape

Ramblin Ambassadors - Camino Real
Spinto Band - Summer Grof
Mates of State - California
The Futureheads - Walking Backwards
Elvis Costello - American Gangster Time
The Dodos - Eyelids
Flight of the Conchords - Mutha'uckas
Beck - Hollywood Freaks
Yea Big + Kid Static - The Life Here
Vampire Weekend - Arrows
The High Dials - Morning's White Vibration
America - Ventura Highway

Les Savy Fav - Debaser (Live)

I have to admit, I'm usually not a big fan of the live recordings that I stumble across on the blogosphere from time to time, mainly because the sound quality is reliably horrendous. However, when a band that I like decides to release an official live album, I find it hard to resist checking it out. Sure, even officially sanctioned live albums are a mixed bag at best, but with a band like Les Savy Fav, who are known for their unpredictable and sweat-soaked stage show, a live record should be a worthy addition to their discography.

Indeed, this particular show, recorded on New Year's Eve 2007 at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC is sizzling with energy, and if the playing sounds a little bit sloppy and chaotic at times, the album is all the better for it. Tim Harrington and Co. even threw in a stream of fun covers at the end that included everyone from Nirvana to CCR to The Misfits (!), and this half-drunk version of The Pixies' "Debaser". After The Balls Drop is available now exclusively as a digital download on iTunes and Amazon, and offers audio proof that LSF definitively rocks the party anytime, anywhere.

» Buy it on Amazon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Plantlife - Agirllikeudeservesamanwhotreatsuhowulike

It's been a few years since we heard from Plantlife, the L.A. outfit that brought us the funky grooves and electro-soul mash-ups heard on their massive debut album The Return of Jack Splash. This time they seem to be heading in a slightly more electronic direction, but there's no mistaking the Prince-esque crooning of lead singer Jack Splash. Their new album Time Traveller will definitely be rocking your parties if you're a fan of Chromeo, Sly and the Family Stone, !!! or George Clinton. It's available now on Rapster Records... what are you waiting for?

» Bonus Track: Sumthin About Her
» Buy it on Amazon

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Constantines + Feist - Islands in the Stream (Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton cover)

Who can resist a collaboration between The Constantines and Feist doing a rendition of a song that was made famous by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, but originally written by The Bee Gees? Not me. As a clever marketing move to help promote the upcoming Constantines album Kensington Heights, Arts and Crafts have issued this special recording of "Islands in the Stream" on a limited edition 7" (I think it's also available digitally). The b-side is the track "Trans Canada", which also appears on Kensington Heights (the cover doesn't). Either way, both songs are fantastic, even if the new Cons album has been a bit of a grower for me.

» Buy the 7" here

Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Blood - Grumpy

I've been eagerly anticipating a full-length release from Free Blood ever since they posted their first song on MySpace a couple years ago. Although they still haven't delivered on that LP, I'll be more than happy to listen to new material from them in two song increments so long as they keep putting out EPs as good as this. John Pugh used to be the percussionist for !!!, and if you're a fan of !!!, you'll find that there is a very familiar off-kilter rhythm that drives most of their songs. However, "Grumpy" strays from that mold and ups the tempo slightly, producing what could be their most addictive track to date. There's no question that this music was made for the dance floor. Check out their wacky video for "Royal Family" if you want some visuals to accompany the groove. You can currently catch Free Blood on tour across North America opening for Hot Chip.

» Bonus Track: Royal Family
» Bonus Track: Quick and Painful (Hot Chip Remix)

YMCK - Future Invasion

If you're at all into the current 8-bit music scene, which re-appropriates old school video game samples and synthesizer chips to make new songs, odds are you may have heard of the Japanese trio YMCK. They played the Blip Festival a couple of years ago in New York and have been gaining in popularity with the help of their pixel perfect retro music videos. Just last month their third album Family Genesis was released in the U.S., and I'm happy to report that it's basically more of the same sugary pop goodness! Most of the lyrics and song titles aren't in English, but that hardly seems to matter. Be warned: if you didn't grow up on the beeps and bleeps of the NES or Commodore 64, their music just might make you want to stab toothpicks in your ears!

» Bonus Track: Sabita Tobira no Dai 8 Tengoku
» Buy it on Amazon

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #15

There's nothing like a good snowstorm to keep you confined indoors with enough spare time to record a podcast. Has it really been 3 months since the last Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape? Wow, sorry about that. On this installment I cover a variety of upcoming releases I had been meaning to post about but never got around to. As always, if you hear something you like, go buy it! (By the way, I finally put up a new podcast player in the sidebar... the Odeo one was starting to lag behind.)

Gnarls Barkley - Surprise
School of Language - Disappointment '99
Explorers Club - Do You Love Me
The Boy Least Likely To - A Balloon on a Broken String
The Headlights - Collect Them All
Destroyer - Dark Leaves From A Thread
LCD Soundsystem - Big Ideas
M.I.A - Paper Planes (DFA Remix)
Subtle - Middleclass Haunt (feat. Dan Boeckner)
MGMT - Time To Pretend
Tender Forever - How Many
Stephen Malkmus - Gardenia
The Constantines - Credit River
Two Hours Traffic - Stuck For The Summer
Tokyo Police Club - In A Cave
The Breeders - Walk It Off
Blood on the Wall - Lightning Song
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (Kanye West Remix)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Apes and Androids - Make Forever Last Forever

Well I still don't know all that much about Apes and Androids, but their music seems to speak for itself. These guys are bringing together both the sound and the imagery of Queen, David Bowie and Prince and generating some kind of crazy electro-funk rock opera concoction that will soon unleash a robot apocalypse on humanity. Blood Moon is one of the most intriguing albums I've heard in a while, and even if the bombastic nature of the music can be a bit hard to take in one sitting, I am lead to believe that their live show is where it all really comes alive. If they happen to tour anywhere near my home you can bet I'll be there to witness it. In the meantime, you might want to let this album kick your ass around the block a few times. Blood Moon is available now on iTunes and via the band's website.

» Bonus Track: Radio

Crystal Castles - Love and Caring

Although they weren't able to play their scheduled show last weekend in Hamilton, Toronto's Crystal Castles are now out on tour across North America with HEALTH, and they're building quite a bit of momentum leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album next month. It's hard to believe that this is the same duo that broke onto the scene "accidentally" with some early recordings cobbled together from 8-bit video game samples and old keyboards; their music has since been evolving into a more slick and polished dancey electro-pop sound. It's not entirely a bad thing, but I definitely prefer the songs that are a little more raw or just eerie and spacey. This album is recommended for fans of Adult. and Ladytron, among others, and with all the buzz that's building I wouldn't be surprised if Crystal Castles lead to a new explosion in so-called "laptop bands" across Canada. The album will be released on Last Gang Records on March 18th.

» Bonus Track: Magic Spells
» Pre-order it on Amazon

New Pornographers - The Speed of Luxury

I know a lot of people felt the last New Pornographers album was simply coasting along on their previous work, without really progressing or adding anything particularly new or exciting. I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but for me, an average New Pornographers album is still head and shoulders above the material that a lot of other bands put out. As a compliment to Challengers, the band also released a series of b-sides, and when placed alongside the album they do help round it out a bit more. "The Speed of Luxury" almost has a Pixies vibe to it, although it eventually breaks into a familiar-sounding chorus, while "Fugue State" is a more laidback A.C. Newman tune. If you like these songs, you might consider ordering the complete "Executive Edition" of Challengers, which also includes a disc of live songs (assuming it's still available out there).

» Bonus Track: Fugue State
» Buy Challengers on Amazon

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Futureheads - The Beginning of the Twist

The Futureheads' sophomore album News & Tributes was a bit of a disappointment for a lot of fans, and although it had some highlights, I have to admit that it was nowhere near as thrilling or electric as their self-titled debut. But fear not Futurehead-heads... their next record is shaping up to be a fine return to form, bringing back the manic energy and angular hooks that we first fell in love with. This Is Not The World is the name of the album, which will be released on their own label Nul Records this May in the U.K. A North American date is still TBA, and in fact, I'm not sure if they're still on Vagrant in the U.S., or if they were dropped there at the same time that 679 Recordings ended their contract.

"The Beginning of the Twist" will be the first single from the new album, available on CD, vinyl, and as a digital download on March 10th. "Broke Up the Time" is another new song that they released as a free download towards the end of last year. If these tracks don't get you excited, I don't know what will!

» Bonus Track: Broke Up the Time

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Out-Circuit - Come Out Shooting

When Frodus first broke up, I was heartbroken. And though the members of Frodus have gone to create such diverse creations as Frantic Mantis, Decahedron, The Cassettes, Zealot and Night is Invisible, none of them have really caught my attention as much as the Out-Circuit. I loved their debut album Burn Your Scripts Boys even though it end up being a bit repetitive. That's why I'm glad to see them going in a slightly different direction on their new album Pierce the Empire With A Sound. The new album has a slightly harder sound, as evidenced by the appearance of Sean Ingram of Coalesce and Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, but also maintains the beauty of their first album with some vocal appearances by Rachel Burke of Beauty Pill. While their debut album had a dreamy feel to it, this new album mixes that sound with much harsher textures, and does so beautifully.

Bonus Track - The Contender

Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love for Planet Earth

With a name like Fuck Buttons, you know these guys are out here to eff shit up. For one, judging by their name, we can tell that they definitely have no sense of manners. And for that matter, they don't even seem to care about proper grammar - their debut album is called Street Horrrsing for crying out loud! But what they lack in decorum, they make up for with some chaoticly noisy masterpieces. At times they remind me of a noisier, more rhythmic version of Black Dice, but that doesn't really seem to capture it. There's something else going on here, something much deeper, something almost spiritual.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Mae Shi - Pwnd

The latest album from L.A.-based spazz rock outfit The Mae Shi finds them moving away from short melody-packed bursts of frenetic noise to somewhat extended, more progressive songs. Although 3 minutes may not seem long for the average band, to The Mae Shi it is almost an eternity. How on earth did they manage to sit still long enough to record a song that is 11 and a half minutes long? Perhaps it has something to do with the departure of founding members Ezra Buchla and Corey Fogel to form Gowns. Either way, it's an interesting direction for them, and without scaring anyone, I have to admit that there are some moments on Hlllyh where I was alternately reminded of Refused, The Mars Volta and Akron/Family. Which isn't to say The Mae Shi have gone prog, but they've certainly expanded their repertoire a bit. The vocals have become shrill and almost unbearable at points (on "Party Politics", for example), but it's still not without its charm. Give these tracks a listen and see what you think.

» Bonus Track: I Get Almost Everything
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Los Campesinos! - Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats

This April, Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts will release the first full-length album from Welsh rockers Los Campesinos!. It may seem only appropriate considering that the band are being hyped as "the next Broken Social Scene", but I think those comparisons are more due to the large number of contributors in both bands and the fact that they toured with BSS in the summer of 2006. It's true, they do capture some of the same early 90's indie rock vibe, but Los Campesinos! remind me more of BSS labelmates Stars with some Pixies savagery threatening to break through. Either way, this is one band to keep your eye on in 2008, and Hold On Now, Youngster... is a thoroughly enjoyable listen from beginning to end. ("C is the Heavenly Option" is a Heavenly cover, and a b-side of The International Tweexcore Underground EP.)

» Bonus Track: 2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart)
» Bonus Track: C is the Heavenly Option
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Constantines - Hard Feelings

With the folding of Three Gut Records and the emergence of a couple of side projects in Baby Eagle and Woolly Leaves, I was starting to get a little worried that The Constantines might be on the verge of calling it quits. Fortunately, that statement couldn't be farther from the truth, as they are currently in the studio wrapping up production on their latest album, and they have also announced a partnership with Canadian uber-indie label Arts & Crafts to release the album this April.

Just to whet your appetite, they will release a brand new limited edition 7" next Tuesday (Jan. 15th) featuring the songs "Hard Feelings" and "Easy Money". Strangely, although one might assume these guys are adamantly analog (what with the Bruce Springsteen comparisons and all), this is actually the first 7" they've ever put out... so grab it while you can! If "Hard Feelings" is any indication, they are pretty much picking up right where they left off on Tournament of Hearts -- and I couldn't be more pleased. (Note: The songs will also be available as a digital download for those of us who live in the future.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Zak's Top 10 Albums of 2007

Sure, it's a little bit late, but you guys all know I go for obscurity over speed. Wouldn't you rather have a top 10 list chock full of ultra-indie releases than one posted last week?

10. Black Dice - Load Blown
A late release, and perhaps chronically ignored, I found this to be their most thoroughly enjoyable album to date. The singles released earlier in the year blew me away, and so did the album. "Roll Up" is the world's next big dance track.
» MP3: Roll Up

9. Von Sudenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions
This album was supposed to be one of those one-off albums that is somewhat interesting, and fun, but not really substantial. But, I found it incredibly fun, and on a constant loop in my iTunes. Finally that hack Mark E. Smith has done something to be proud of.
»MP3: Family Feud

8. St. Vincent - Marry Me
This is perhaps the odd choice for me. It's quite a bit poppier than what I normally listen to, but I found myself listening to this album over and over again throughout the year. Perhaps it's the amazing melodies and completely original and dryly humorous songs, or maybe I just have a crush on her, but still a great album.
»MP3: Marry Me

7. Blonde Redhead - 23
Right after I heard this album, I told Sean this would be in my top 10 albums of the year, so of course I had to put it on here. But on top of that, I think this is the most enjoyable album they've ever put out.
»MP3: Dr. Strangeluv

6. Deerhunter - Cryptograms/Flourescent Grey
Despite their weak performance at Pitchfork Festival this summer, and the odd shit stories, still easily one of my favourite albums of the year. These guys are making stoner rock cool again.
»MP3: Dr. Glass

5. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I've always 'kinda liked' Spoon, but this album made me put them in the 'Favourite Bands' section on Facebook. Of course, it is a little safer than their other releases, but I think they've written some of their most complex songs yet. One of my most listened to albums of the year.
» MP3: Don't Make Me a Target

4. Future of the Left - Curses
I''m surprised at how little attention this album has received this year, especially as McClusky has always been such a huge fan favourite among hipsters. This album does not explore terribly new ground, but it's a little more slowed down, a little more mature, and completely solid from beginning to end. On top of that it's a totally m-fing fun album. Who else can write a chorus sung in round around the words "Colin is a pussy/ A very pretty pussy!"? Please check them out.
»MP3: Manchasm

3. Liars - Liars
This album is almost like a step-back from the direction Liars were going, but I'm glad they did it. Deep down, we all know Drums Not Dead was a little boring and pretentious, but this new album is essentially a reimagining of the band (hence the self-titled album). Let's consider it an apology to all their fans for all those other unmentionables.
»MP3: Houseclouds

2. Caribou - Andorra
I gotta represent the Dundas, but still, this album proves why Caribou is a genius. Everytime I listen to this album I feel like hear something new - there's so many layers to his music, and some many well-planned out melodies. He still holds onto some his folktronica and krautrock influences, but he also mixes in a little motown. Who know it would work so well together?
»MP3: Desiree

1. No Age - Weirdo Rippers
Perhaps I'm a little biased because of my love for lo-fi music, but this album caught me off guard, and it continues to do so the more I listen to it. They create some amazing aural soundscapes, and then completely overthrow them with some raucous punk sounds. This is definitely a band that's set out to destroy your expectations. Let's hope lo-fi makes the comeback we know the world needs.
»MP3: Loosen this Job

Honourable Mentions

CocoRosie - the Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
While I've always loved CocoRosie, this is the first album by them that I listened to repeatedly. This release is a little poppier, a little hip-hoppier, and still a great time.

This guy had so many interesting albums come out this year that a) it's hard to pick a best album, and b) with so many releases, he's been a bit inconsistent. But I gotta give him props nonetheless. He's put out a huge variety of material, from almost-metalish (Conqueror), to drone (Sun Down/Sun Rise), to shoegazer (Lifelife, and Eluvium Split EP), and an odds and edds collection (Pale Sketches) that includes some of his best material. There's some great material in here.

Aloha - Light Works
Not an album per se, more of a long EP, but still a phenomenal release. While their last album had a prog-rock feel to it, this one finds them exploring some more acoustic balladry which we all love.

Wintersleep - Welcome to the Night Sky
Perhaps another shocker. This band has never really amazed me, and I've always hated their fans, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed this album. Sure, they think they can charge $15 for concerts now, but it's probably only gonna go up from here.

Polysics - Rocket

The North American takeover of Japanese electro-pop darlings Polysics hasn't quite happened like I thought I would, which is really too bad. A lot of people are still missing out on this quirky and infectious band, but maybe they're just too quirky for even the most adventurous listeners stateside. The good thing is that they just keep on truckin', putting out a new release of some sort every couple of months over in Japan. This is their latest single "Rocket", which was released back in November. The disc comes with a karaoke version of this song and the b-side, but unless you can speak Japanese, you'll probably end up embarrassing yourself! Then again, that's what karaoke is all about.

» Watch the video on YouTube
» Buy it on Amazon