by: Paul McEldowney
Stephen Merritt - Obscurities - Merge
Magnetic Fields' hoplessly and nihilistically romantic front man's rare pre-69 love songs solo recordings. The recordings go from a more damaged and self-awaringly goofy synth-pop sounds of earlier albums Distant Plastic Trees to the more developed baroque and narrative based country-tinged folk pop of early-middle recordings of Charm Of Highway Strip. Merritt fans who miss the older more lo-fi Magnetic Fields will find this a treat, and newer fans will be charmed by Merritt's eternal cleverness, unrivaled pop sensibilities and song writing abilities. There's an alternate version of Take Ecstasy with Me which is killing me slowly.
Archers Of Loaf - Icky Mettle - Merge
Seminal 90's noisy angsty and super melodic indie rock with those raspy heartfelt and cathartic vocals, sludgey muddy guitar riffs and matching melancholic pop leads gets the deluxe reissue treatment. A testament to the fact that everything in the 90's was better than everything else that preceded and proceeded it.
Male Bonding - Endless Now - Sub Pop
Male Bonding return with more anthemic, sensitive, and sassy dream-punk hits. Much less noisy than their debut, this album is more restrained, focused, sincere and mature, breaking away from and improving on the over-done fuzz pop sound.
Blasted Canyons - Blasted Canyons - Castle Face
Party Rockers by LMFAO is the number one song in America. It's pretty obnoxious, contagious, disruptive, and dissonant. This is pretty good garage punk equivalent, and it's all racaousy destructo punk party hits with heavy dark synthesizers a la Screamers and Chrome, but way more straight-forward killer. On John Dwyer's personal label castle face so only fun times allowed.
Pregnant/Alak - Tradition - Porter
Split album between cutie pie couple Pregnant and Alak. It's all spiritual, unpredictable, baroque and disjointed fancy pantsy but modest abstract half-pop with some almost Jandek-y moments especially on the Alak side.
Gold Leaves - The Ornament - Hardly Art
Sweet country-tinged chamber pop from Grant Olsen of Arther & Yu. I didn't know until this week that there existed chewing sticks--tooth picks flavored by tea tree oils. It was pretty delicious and makes a neat alternative to mints and gum, and there's a weird sense of re-appropriation of 'country' living to a contemporary suburban context, as you can buy them from health foods stores and farmers' markets style super markets. Gold Leaves takes such classic cowboy and 'country' themes to do something comfortable, recognizable, cool, new and refreshing.
Cut Off Your Hands - Hollow - French Kiss
Catchy jangly sorta britty dream pop which draws from every indie pop trope The Smiths ever established.
Grey Reverend - Of The Days - Motion
Stripped-down warm and fuzzy, contemplative and melancholic singer-songwriter guitar based folk and official soundtrack to straight-to-dvd Garden State 2 with Nick Drake subdued style vocals and elegant guitar work.
The Step Kids - The Step Kids - Stones Throw
Groovey mystical retro-futuristic disco funk with soulful harmonies, gratuitous harpsichord and bass lines that go all the way. It's like if Steely Dan were more spacey and psychedelic, were actually a worthwhile band to listen to, and were mixed with Ghana Highlife, Can, James Brown, and Sly.