Thrice - Major/Minor
I was never the biggest fan of Thrice growing up. They always had one part in each song that really turned me off, but ever since 2009’s Beggars, I have really enjoyed their new matured sound. This record continues refining that sound into one of the cleanest records I have heard in a while. An album that’s as brutal as it is big, Major/Minor is certainly worth your listen.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic
Pavement is certainly an institution of indie music. The album sounds like a cleaned up Pavement record with a serious attitude problem. The spitting “Senator” is one of the funniest tracks of the year, along with one of the best; it doesn’t hurt that the hilarious music video has Jack Black, Gary Cole, and April O’Neil (NSFW) having a blast in it. Also, does it sound like he gives a fuck on this record? Probably not…or something.
Sepalcure - Sepalcure
This album certainly does nothing new; Burial popularized this sound by himself, not needing a partner, but doing something new isn’t what this record is about: it freshens up the garage 2-step dub sound to the current state of bass music (I guess that’s what we’re calling it now to avoid the “dubstep” tag). Adding in some wobbly synths, Sepalcure brings me back to the day I first listened to Burial, captivated at everything caught in simplicity.
Rival Schools - Pedals
Post-hardcore is easily one of my favorite genres of music, not that shitty From First To Last that got mislabeled but the Bear vs. Sharks and Gallows of the world. Fully emotional and lifting, Pedals offers the attack of hardcore with a surprising amount of singalongs — I find myself humming “Wring It Out” at least once a week. The guitars are perfect in this album. Definitely a prolific record for the early, befuddled twenty year-olds in the world, Pedals gets more and more enjoyable with each spin.
Mister Heavenly - Out Of Love
"Bronx Sniper" opens a record full of jagged edges and built up release. One of the best Rock and Roll records since Is This It and last year’s Play It Strange, the albums seems to contain its deception within a leaky frame. The melodies of each song seem to struggle within the confines they are placed in — you can actually hear the evolution of Rock music in this record, but it somehow sounds fresh and new.
Peaking Lights - 936
This album took my lo-fi psychedelic vote of the year, sorry Era Extraña. It was everything I wanted to hear on an acid trip. I remember putting my headphones on and losing myself in the noise. “Key Sparrow” floats around somewhere just above your head and rocks back and forth, teasing you in a playful way. This album is an experience you must use headphones for. Have fun floating slightly above your body!
Wild Beasts - Smother
One of the most beautiful records of the year, Smother plays out sort of like an electronic drama. Hayden Thrope’s beautiful voice is obviously the center piece, as it is with almost all of Wild Beasts’ material. He effortlessly glides in and out of his falsetto; songs like “Invisible” showcase Thorpe’s voice accompanied only by light piano. This is definitely a dark, emotional trip, not unlike 2009’s excellent Hospice, sans the concept treatment but not without its appeal.
Yuck - Yuck
This record of indie revival did what Sepalcure did with garage 2-step: it didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it did contextualize it in the current age. With the best opening 1-2 punch this year with “Get Away” followed by “The Wall”, Yuck built a rock solid record around crunchy guitars from the 90’s alternative scene. There is a drop off of catchy energy after the first two punches, but “Operation” picks it back up with agression. An album that recollects fuzzy VHS footage of you and your friends goofing off, Yuck is a can’t miss record for classic indie rock enthusiasts.
WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
WU LYF finally released their full length, after years of not knowing what the hell they were going to do. The band doesn’t have a public face. They like to be mysteries though. I consider this a cult of a record, with barely understandable singalong vocals, light instrumentation, and pulsing drums. Go Tell Fire is a unique listen, if not anything else. They describe themselves as “Heavy Pop”. And it’s easy to see why when you find yourself screaming babbles at the top of your lungs.
Cults - Cults
It wasn’t that I was disappointed with this record, but it definitely suffered from Treats disorder, containing only a handful of new material and the same songs that had been floating around the interwebs for some time. “Abducted” was a breath of fresh air and a great way to start the album off. I only spun the record a few times, just to hear the new material and I know that took a lot from the listening experience. Maybe in a few years I can come back to this album and have a totally “new” experience.