Crocodiles – “She Splits Me Up”
Crimes of Passion

It’s really hard to find anything at all wrong with this song. The bass line is strong and gives tone to the beat, the vocals are pleasantly and fuzzily multitracked, the glittery guitar has the deft precision of a harpsichord. Even the initially atonal opening riff falls exactly into place. True, it doesn’t change much, but neither does it overstay its welcome. A summer jam I’ll be inserting into many a playlist. (insound)


Gauntlet Hair – “Human Nature”

Dark electro with a No Age-esque edge. Deserves to be played at high volume, so you get the power of both the dubby backbeat and the noise-rock counterpoint. (insound)

Hauschka – “Paige and Jane”

Delicate yet rich, a piano and cello weave together and create something heart-stopping. This album is short but absolutely exquisite. (serein)


Houndmouth – “Penitentiary”
From the Hills Beneath the City

This folk-orchestra item impressed me in the car with its resonant chorus harmonies and authentic sounding insertions of “oh mama” and “oh lord.” Not my usual wheelhouse, but a great song is a great song. (insound)


Lotus Plaza – “Monoliths”
Spooky Action at a Distance

It’s hard to pin down the sound exactly – Jesus & Mary Chain crossed with Women? However you define it, this Deerhunter side project makes solid, fuzzy psych-rock and “Monoliths” is an ebullient nugget of just that. (insound)


Brambles – “Salt Photographs”

Another subdued album of what might be called ‘enhanced chamber music’ from the label that owns that space, Serein. This song, the longest on Charcoal, combines atmospheric noise and percussion with delicate and precisely-placed strings and keyboards. I love the transition and slow build, like a cross between early A Silver Mt Zion and label-mates Nest — a nearly flawless ambient work. (serein)


Bach – “Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße”
BWV 211, the “Coffee Cantata”

Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße, / Ah! how sweet coffee tastes!
Lieblicher als tausend Küsse, / Lovelier than a thousand kisses,
Milder als Muskatenwein. / smoother than sweet muscatel.
Coffee, Coffee muss ich haben, / Coffee, I must have coffee,
Und wenn jemand mich will laben, / and if someone wants to treat me,
Ach, so schenkt mir Coffee ein! / ah! my cup with coffee fill! (wiki)


Black Moth Super Rainbow – “Forever Heavy”
Dandelion Gum

I wrote off BMSR long before this album came out, finding much of their output only partially accomplishing what it sets out to. Looks like they got their ducks in a row, because this excellent opener is a truly glorious combination of wah-wah synth, UFO noise, and the guy’s distorted voice. If a robot did mushrooms, this is what it would hum. (insound)


Hildur Guðnadóttir – “Leyfðu Ljósinu (prelude)”
Leyfðu Ljósinu

This astonishing piece is the work of one Icelandic woman, performed live and without any post-production. Its delicate beginning only hints at the tonal richness of the rest, in which her cello and voice (looped and layered) intermingle in otherworldly, spine-chilling fashion and gradually build to a near-frantic conclusion. The best modern chamber music I have heard in years. Listen to the whole thing here.


Phantogram – “Make a Fist”

Somehow combines the mystical, rhythmic insight of Gang Gang Dance with the best aspects of today’s electropop. Every buzz, echo, tomtom, and break in this song is placed with extreme care and precision, manifesting in unremitting urgency and variation. (insound)