Earthless: Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky (Tee Pee)
The image of the average stoner metal fan is a hairy, portly troublemaker looking for a good time. Earthless is for those who like to nurse gravity bong hits until you're on the floor and can barely move. The instrumental San Diego trio rides through a galaxy of luminous boogie metal with Southern fried riffs. Dishing out just three songs in 45 minutes, Rhythms is caked with resin on the droning suite "Godspeed," while the doom blues of "Sonic Prayer" etches arid drought cracks in the listener's heads long after listening.
Fields: Everything Last Winter (Atlantic/Black Lab Records)
Okay, so you've probably read enough blog buzz about this British/Icelandic band that you're ready to throw a rock through your monitor, but sit tight because their much-anticipated debut delivers and then some. Fields are like the baked Alaska of shoegazer music. Their tunes are intricately layered with super sweet and icy cold layers of breezy pop and enchanting singing with tones reminiscent of something congealed like a fossilized gem unearthed from the vaults of Creation Records. It's also like the indie pop soundtrack that Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are never had.
Lesbians on Ecstasy: We Know You Know (Alien8)
Lesbians on Ecstasy spell "women" with a "y" in place of the "e," which I find awesome because I've long spelled "team" without the "a" and an "i" before the "m". Nevertheless, We Know You Know is like Emma Goldman came back to life to take over dance punk and broody electro, adding in the fury of industrial death disco and Riot Grrrl. LOE uses dancing and anthemic lyrics as a weapon against outdated social values. We Know You Know instantly goes down as a key moment along with Primal Scream's Screamadelica and Le Tigre's Feminist Sweepstakes, where the listener can dance while thrusting a striking blow against gender politics and narrow-minded thinking.
Amandine: Solace in Sore Hands (Fat Cat)
Amandine is one band that will leave the folks at the Secretly Canadian label kicking themselves in the asses for not signing them. Hailing from the Deep South (of Sweden), Amandine is a lush serving of Olof Gidlof's vocals weaved up with dark country and eerie, feathery, pastoral Americana folk twanginess, with floating banjo plucking and a peppering of ranchero trumpets. A must have for any fan of Sun Kil Moon.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: In Glorious Times (The End)
Over the years, know-it-all critics have been quick to pin SGM as merely "classical metal" - and such elements are omnipresent - In Glorious Times has the Oakland-based crew seeming like true renegades of the Enlightenment Era, had metal music prevailed in 19th century Vienna. Bulging with abrasive cabaret influences including ferocious glockenspiels, xylophones, trombones, Carla Kihlstedt's unique autoharp and the gurgling vocals of Michael Mellander and Dan Rathburn, In Glorious Times will enlighten and scare the piss out of you all at once.
The Teeth: You're My Lover Now (Park The Van)
Having already made a name for themselves in their hometown of Philadelphia, The Teeth are out to conquer the world with their rickety, spunky brand of ramshackle power-twee pop. It holds true to the aesthetics of Pavement and Big Star while managing to coast through on their own hyperactive strain of indie pop that is punchy, wired, spiky, and, most of all, contagious.
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