Archer Prewitt
Wilderness
A lovely masterwork of classic pop patchworking. Prewitt builds bridges and exultant codas from seemingly endless scraps of song, stitching pieces together with the odd bit of pedal steel, marimba and even a little “Ave Maria”.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
s/t
An infectious and rollicking record that sounds like The Feelies and Modern Lovers strolling through a carnival with a jovial Jeff Mangum sucking the helium out of balloons.

Sleater-Kinney
The Woods
While countless scruffy (usually canadian) dudes are fighting their way to the front of indie rock mags with cheap, hi-hat-heavy 80’s nostalgia, S-K have made a raucus rock record that doesn’t ape dance music but pushes you to shake it. Loud, fucking raw and delicious.

Spoon
Gimme Fiction
Retreating somewhat from the spit and the fire of Kill The Moonlight into darker and more sinuous territory, Spoon continue to put out the kind of albums that are destined to be pulled out of the sleeve and listened to time and again.

Stars
Set Yourself On Fire
Sophisticated and richly melodic male/female pop, weaving strands of electronic sparkle and white soul over longing lyrics both
abrasive and sweet. While The Delgados called it quits this year, we can still drink our bittersweet cup of song with Stars.

Animal Collective
Feels
Lysergic dream-pop hymns for the voices in your head to sing along to. Space oddities the Flaming Lips or Shins would write if they were coming down from a trip, only…creepier.

Iron & Wine/Calexico
In The Reins
The live performance featuring this collaboration made clear why it works so well. Solo, Sam Beam’s songs never really moved me; with his backing band they became something even blander. But buoyed by Calexico, a plaintive song like “Sixteen, Maybe Less” was transcendent.

Sufjan Stevens
Illinois
The only forum I can really tolerate religion is in music. I can’t say to what extent Sufjan’s christian beliefs inform his music, but this incredible album, with its bedroom symphony score to the fantastical and the mundane of Illinois, leaves little doubt that the man is inspired.

The Clientele
Strange Geometry
Floating out of the speakers like pastoral shoegazer, these hazy tremolo lullabies were almost too airy to connect to live, but on the headphones they melt the mind into a pillow of sound.

Andrew Bird
The Mysterious Production of Eggs
Like a Mark Ryden painting set to music, The Mysterious Production… is a juxtaposition of surreal themes. Over the pluck and strum of violin and guitar, Bird touches on vaudeville, spaghetti westerns and, literally, employs bells and whistles to complete his bizzaro balladry.

a l s o w o r t h y

Wolf Parade
Apologies to the Queen Mary
New Pornographers
Twin Cinema
Low
The Great Destroyer
Petra Haden
Sings: The Who Sell Out
Pernice Brothers
Discover A Lovelier You
Sigur Ros
Takk
Sam Prekop
Who’s Your New Professor?
Wilco
Kicking Television

 

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