Tulsa Drone – “Risk Guitar”
Songs From A Mean Season

On their follow-up to the eerie No Wake, Tulsa Drone have greatly reinforced their sound, producing a heavier post-rock feel akin to This Will Destroy You or Saxon Shore, though it rolls more than it grows. There are also vocals, a mixed bag but not problematic. The hammered dulcimer is ever-present, but is no longer the lead instrument — a loss, if you ask me, since that truly set apart the sound, though the richer tone does have its merits. (insound)

The Drones – “I See Seaweed”
I See Seaweed

The truth is I can’t stand the way this guy sings, but he is one of the rare songwriters out there who can make up for a mouthful of marbles with the quality of his writing. Wait Long By The River… had surprising lyrical depth, and I See Seaweed, the title track in particular, does as well — juxtaposing rising sea levels with more personal human iniquities. It’s not happy music, however, so if you’re looking for something to drag you out of the ditch, this ain’t it. (buy at band website)

SCNTST – “Percee Scan”
Self Therapy

I don’t always go in for these songs that use real-world sounds as their basis (Matmos and M.I.A. are exceptions), but this one repurposes a scanner it for more than just rhythm, assembling several distinct voices from it. The beat could stand to be a little less house-y, but otherwise it’s a solid and highly original sound. “So Tough” is another amazing track if you’re looking for something less weird. (insound)

Silo – Prime Movers

With their single-minded, heavy, groove-focused, mostly instrumental songs, Silo fall somewhere between Trans Am and Tortoise. That the repeating portion is so prominent in most of the songs may turn a few off, but it’s simply a thicker tapestry into which subtle patterns can be woven. (swim)


Speedy Ortiz – “No Below”
Major Arcana

A straightforward quality indie-rock album for the most part, with this excellent track striking a rather darker tone than the rest. The growling bass and lurking guitars lead to a wonderfully noisy but ultimately restrained finale, and the song slips away before it overstays its welcome. (insound)


Grails – “Future Primitive”
Deep Politics

Grails takes it back a couple notches after the sublime Burning Off Impurities and tense Doomsdayer’s Holiday. Here be restrained distortion, subtle arrangements, piano solus, and less overall dread. It’s Morricone-infused 70s psych rock with an undercurrent of unease, and it’s a very good listen. (insound)

Bear In Heaven – “Werewolf”
Red Bloom of the Boom

If nobody had told me it was them, I wouldn’t have been able to connect this vastly varied and ambitious album to Bear In Heaven’s interesting but ultimately unfulfilling follow-ups. Red Bloom of the Boom is a dream of melody in battle with a nightmare of noise: multilayered headphone music that demands your attention and deserves it. This track is pretty subdued, though. (insound)


CFCF – “Camera”
Music for Objects

A brief and diverse collection of (what else?) object-themed music, Music for Objects is less about hitting a catchy groove and more about creating unique sounds. “Camera” makes the biggest impact, but the keyboard-dominated “Ring” and “Glass” (bookending the album) are an airy side of CFCF I don’t hear often. (insound)


Savages – “Shut Up”
Silence Yourself

I’m not entirely sold on the vocals in this band (or their all-caps “messages,” though I don’t object), but the wailing guitars, clear growling bass, and mega-tight percussion are impossible to not stomp along to — they deserve the hype. You can skip the first 45 seconds or so, which is just album intro stuff. Note: Savages are the kind of band that would punch you for doing that. (insound)


Balmorhea – “Constellations”

In the predawn gloom you can just make out the pianist slouching in the parlor, reeking of laudanum and rose water, deliriously tapping out a sparse gothic paean to hollow euphoria, then listing, toppling, and waking in the morning having forgotten all of it — the ecstasy, the agony, and the ivory. (/pitchfork) (insound)