by: Matt Buga
Felix- You Are The One I Pick [Kranky]
Folk-y/lounge-y female singer-songwriter driven by more minimalist-leaning piano and cello work. There's backing guitar and bass work done by a dude from the stoner metal band Lords which is kind of curious. Very nice and beautiful, reminiscent of Antony & The Johnston's backing music, but a little more full sounding. Not too far from Cat Power. There's a cute dog on the inside of the cover.
Kite Operations- Festival [Actually, Records]
This is a pretty sweet four-piece. Free-jazz inspired noise-rock improv-spazz-pop. Sounds like Don Caballero meets Cap'n Jazz plus more noise. Super energetic and fierce.
The Questionmarks- Boo! I'm a ghost [Tokyo-No Records]
Oh man, all you fans of Japanese psychedelic speedy garage punk will be pleased. Fast 60s/70s inspired psychedelic rock with raw production and a little bit of quirky vocal delivery. Features the guitarist from the classic Japanese psych-group DMBQ on multiple tracks which is a huuuuggeeee plus.
Talk Normal- Sugarland [Rare Book Room]
Female-lead noise-rock that sounds a bit like early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but with a big dose of no-wave, and a little bit of darkness here and there. Plus more low-end and slowness. Gets pretty experimental at times.
Espers- III [Drag City]
Great expansive folk from the fantastic label, Drag City. Full and rich with instrumentation, very soothing as well. Lots of good guitar work, nice sounding synth, cool little guitar leads here and there, cello, and more. Ethereal and textured are the keywords here. Mostly female vocals.
The Mary Onettes- Islands [Labrador]
Whoa, New Order and The Cure influences here. If you like either of those, this is up your alley. Big dreamy production values. Echo-y vocals, 80s guitar tones on the guitar and bass, and even some violins. Man, I mean if you ever wanted more Cure and New Order, these guys are really serving up an excellent fusion of the two.
HotChaCha- The World's Hardest Working Telescope & The Violent Birth of Stars [Exit Stencil]
Awesome girl-group playing complex post-punk that's ultra-melodic and catchy. Not to name-drop the Yeah Yeah Yeahs again, but its a bit like them but in a more mature/complex direction. Sounds great.
Devil Eyes- Devil Eyes [Signed By Force]
So you like rock n' roll eh? Prove it by liking this band. Has the punk n' roll spirit of The Stooges and the MC5. Blisteringly rockin', and not as straightforward as you may be fooled into believing. It incorporates some noisy skronk elements here and there in the spirit of raw energy. No gimmicks or extra-pop in here.
Kings of Convenience- Declaration of Dependence [Astralwerks/Source]
If I was more sensitive this would probably be my favorite duo. Mellow folk in the vein of Simon and Garfunkel, very light and sort of makes me feel like the beach. siggggghhhhh.
Cole- Gifts [Life's Blood]
Quirky folk with casio-style electronics to complement. Mellow, but also uplifting and upbeat and up.
Pregnant- Liquidation on Swans [Life's Blood]
Weirdo schizo cluster pop. All kind of samples and keyboard sounds and sounds and some guitar and singing. Glitchy at times, crazy at times, but also pretty nice at times. The second track reminds me of Coquelicot-era Of Montreal and that makes me decently happy.
Piano Magic- Ovations [Darla]
Hella goth-y album mostly in the style of Death In June/Current 93 gloomy beauty ballads (of eastern European influences) to a more darker beat-driven cold wave style, and sometimes Sisters of Mercy. And the ninth track smacks of Joy Division. Beautiful in its darkness.
Boat- Setting the Paces [Magic Marker]
Happy guitar indie rock thats a teeny bit off kilter and a biggy bit clever and fun. RIYL on the label says Pavement, Modest Mouse, and Tullycraft. Yeah I'll give it that.
Devendra Banhart- What Will We Be [Warner Bros]
Freak-folk star. He is bilingual and pretty popular, and apparently a bearded heart-throb. If you like this perhaps you should also listen to Felix and Espers. Just sayin'.
Nothington- Roads, Bridges & Ruins [BYO]
Gritty whiskey-drinking vocals style of pop punk, ala Leatherface and Hot Water Music.
Om- God is Good [Drag City]
Al Cisneros of seminal stoner metal band Sleep returns with a new drone-y bass driven ritualistic/spiritual journey. You can find a little more broad instrumentation in the far Eastern strings and flute. The first track is a 19-minute long bass groove driven piece with various strings on the side. I was particularly surprised with the two shorter tracks on the album (Cremation Ghat I and II), as they were a little more rhythmic and full as opposed to the regular Sleep-inspired bass heavy tracks Om usually lays down, and way more Eastern.
Neal Morgan- To the Breathing World [Drag City]
The drummer for Joanna Newsom appearing on his solo album, still drumming! As a matter of fact, its only a drum and vocal album! There's some multi-tracking going on, and its pretty fun overall. If you're scared to play it by itself (which you could do anyway), perhaps you could be adventurous and play with an ambient track at the same time? Hm?
Mulatu Astatke-New York Addis London- The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975
A sweet collection of some pretty cool jazz that has a pretty fat Ethopian influence at times.
Black Dynamite-Composed by Adrian Younge [waxpoetic]
Pretty sweet original funk and soul compositions made for this new film, so it sounds pretty 70sish groove! Rad, has vocals too! Super! Even though this is technically a soundtrack, the pieces are very much in conventional song structure so its going in here.
Black Dynamite-Various Composers [wax poetic]
This one is more of a compilation of actual UK soul/crime-jazz/cop-funk of the 60s and 70s. If you are into the Finders Keepers record label, this is for you. Most of these were originally composed for cops shows back in the day, and handpicked together for the Black Dynamite soundtrack. Chillll.