Things in Night
A cacophony of sounds derail you from your perch, met with the anger and frustration of the vocalist. The band's name is very fitting to the sort of music they create. Some crazy drumming and trumpet carry most of these songs, instrumentally, and most of what you'll find on here will leave you dumbfounded.
listen to: 1001 Erotic Nights, Planet Life, Armistice Day
Weapons of Mass Distortion
You can feel the raw energy sweeping right beneath you. Programmed beats, coupled with heavily distorted guitars, create a surreal, buzzy vibe that will leave you trembling. Danceable, even.
listen to: Doomsville, Killjoy, My Clock
German sextet rings in a winner with this moody tribute to all things moving. Part lounge music, part symphonic spreewilling, you never really feel safe listening to this music that keeps your brain enraptured. Chaos or bliss? Both.
listen to: Nachtwache 15 September, Lichterloh, Shibboleth
Clatter for Control
Right off the bat, you feel like someone's waking you up and pushing you out of bed. Frantically, you search for last night's jeans as the obtuse percussion beats a hypnotic pulse into your bloodstream. You slow down as you realize there's comfort in the discomfort. Another Godspeed side project winner.
genre: noise rock
listen to: Junk the Clatter, A Different Kind of Function, Go Let's Go
If Then Else
Minus the Bear vocals and electrobuzzed Sparta instrumentation. These guys are a real lost gem in the fold of great albums that have made their mark this year. They haven't really done anything revolutionary, but they're a kick-ass band for name-dropping. Here's antoher: The Postal Service!
listen to: Color Coded, Nimbo Stratus, No Not Yet
Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
The most "alternative"-sounding album on the list. Sometimes you can throw a bunch of influences into a blender and hope you make one hell of a cocktail. Strings and mass percussion rue the day to create some of the most eerie, unforgettable music. A little something for everyone, except children, the elderly, animals, or anyone sane for that matter.
listen to: Felbomlasztott Mentokocsi, Hajnal, Ongyilkos Vasarnap
Always Never Again
This is the kind of album you wish could be injected into the bloodstream of every boring person you've met. Quirky lyrics about nonsensical shit keep the mood light, so don't expect any mind-altering epiphanies. Do anticipate mass excitement, however. I'm sure I bugged the nieghbors with all the clapping along I did to this album.
listen to: Born Into the World, Everybody Sings, Six Cities
Striving to be esoteric is one thing, but to manage to score a few gems in the process also goes a long way. It's like these guys unwrapped their first instruments for xmas and started experimenting away before learning to play a note. Sometimes trying too hard pays off.
listen to: Auto Where To, Arts Centre
Thunderbirds Are Now!
Exclamation points are the new black. So are pirates, ninjas, robots, and zombies. We get it. There's always something to be had, however, by a bunch of guys who don't take themselves too seriously, but do take their music seriously. It's very easy to get lost in this record, if a little repetitive. Fine guitar work, Freud.
listen to: To: Skulls, Eat This City, Better Safe Than Safari
This is the "safest" form of post-rock, so while it doesn't make your stomach drop out, it does provide some stability as you sip on your Kahlua cocktail. They make good use of horns and synths, and sometimes that guitar reaches plateus of incendiary proportions. A worthy effort that won't disappoint.
listen to: Wand, Stumble on Air, Palindrome Dome
Lost and Safe
The Russian Futurists
God is an Astronaut
All is Violent, All is Bright
Kiss Me Deadly
The deadly male-female vocal lead duos are the hippest trend since the days of The Pixies. Whether it's squealing or wailing, these kids know how to deliver the goods. Just take care of shipping and handling and it's yours for the low, low price of one eardrum.
genre: indie rock-pop
listen to: Dance 2, Pop, Groove
A Silver Mt. Zion
Horses in the Sky
I'm sick of trying to follow the name of this band, so ASMZ it'll stick. It seems with each passing, as obscure as the band name becomes, so does their music. They both lost and gained ground on this latest release, but it's still a solid effort. As if Efrim would care what anyone thinks.
genre: campfire post-rock
listen to: Ring Them Bells, Teddy Roosevelt's Guns
The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
In addition to their masterful EP (March Into the Sea), these guys have managed to eclipse a rare style of sound through the evolution of their work. They have the moxy of your typical hair band of the 80s, but the panache of modern-day post-rockers. Thrilling combination.
listen to: March Into the Sea, Aurora Borealis
One Time for All Time
One of the most important bands of our generation, as can never be stressed enough. From the political to the social commentary, these guys deliver a brand of sound that will leave you breathless and shaking in your boots. Only a band such as this can make programmed beats so powerful.
genre: glitchy post-rock
listen to: Radio Protector, Drove Through Ghosts to Get Here, Await Rescue
Explosions in the Sky
How much notoriety do these guys have? Any instrumental rock band that makes use of e-bow, delay, reverb, etc. gets the EITS treatment/comparison. The band encourages you to download this album as well. Eight days of basement work later, they've churned out yet another winner.
listen to: Day Five, Day Six, Day Two
Broken Social Scene
The masters of indie rock, everything they touch turns to gold. There's something to be said about a band that employs up to six guitars per song. This album isn't quite "Feel Good Lost," but it will grow on you.
genre: indie rock
listen to: Ibi Dreams of Pavement, Superconnected, 7-4
Before the Dawn Heals Us
The band that single-handedly drew me into the power of the synth. A plethora of evocative, synth-driven grooves with an aggressive spirit. It'll move you....into a bigger house! Simpsons references never grow old.
listen to: Don't Save Us From the Flames, (Star), Car Chase Terror!
Minus the Bear
Menos el Oso
They got pretty serious with this release, ditching the parlor game names that have anything to do with pirates and beer. Which is pretty good, considering what started out as a fun side-project for the mates turned into a full-fledged arsenal of musicosity. Well met!
listen to: Pachuca Sunrise, The Pig War, Drilling
The Mars Volta
Frances the Mute
It's funny that after looking back at my list here, several of my favorite bands' releases seem to have fallen right smack in the middle of my top 50, meaning they all underperformed the expectations I had set forth for them. I guess grandeur can't last. Changing subjects here, the first part to Cassandra Gemini is among the most amazing pieces I've ever heard.
listen to: Cassandra Gemini
Gotta represent the good ol' home country here. Belgian rockers won me over with this amazing record, chalk-full of mesmerizing, enchanting tunes. Pianos and guitars combine to produce some amazing melodies.
listen to: The Dragster-Wave, 21st Century Crooners, Blow
Just because it's on MTV doesn't automatically means something sucks. These guys managed to actually pull off a strong album here, from one catchy song to the next. They may rip off every other band in known existence, but it's flattering when delivered this well.
listen to: Tyrant, An Honest Mistake
Discovered two days before this list was compiled, these Swedes prove there's a certain formulaic perfection behind the indie-pop-eclectro genre. An excellent listen from start to finish, you'll wonder how something so light can sound so amazing and deep.
genre: indie pop
listen to: Some Indulgence, Lurking (With a Distance), Was That All it Was
Death Cab for Cutie
With Chris Walla, whose, in my opinion, guitar work made the band amazing to begin with, ditching his guitar to become a full-time keyboardist on Plans, it comes with a mixed bag. Thankfully, his talent transcends instruments, and while his piano work on some tracks is amazing, I really miss his guitar work on the more lackluster tracks. Still a strong record with a good ratio of winners.
genre: indie pop
listen to: Summer Skin, Soul Meets Body, Brothers on a Hotel Bed
And the Battle is Won
God, it's bands like this that remind me why post-rock is my favorite genre. If I had a God to worship, it'd be in the form of a tricked-out pedal-board. Not breath-taking, but superbly solid post-rock work here.
listen to: Sadako's Fury, Phantoms, Silent Fire
Mono & World's End Girlfriend
Palmless Prayer, Mass Murder Refrain
Bring in some masters of post-rock, and combine them with a drone specialist, and you get a combination that will inspire you to drool out of both sides of your mouth. Some of the most moving, euphoric music of the year.
listen to: untitled 2, untitled 5
The Back Room
Deceptively catchy material here. Lots of minor chords here, but presented with such an upbeat tempo you don't know whether to cry or dance. Or both. So, in sum, listening to this record is like attending a funeral rave.
listen to: Bullets, Camera, Munich
The Most Serene Republic
I love bands consisting of a massive set of contributors. You can tell these guys were having all the fun in the world recording this gem. You've also got to acknowledge the cred being the only non-BSS-affiliated band to sign onto Arts & Crafts. There's so much bliss on this album, it's hard to stop playing it.
genre: indie pop
listen to: You're a Loose Cannon McArthur...But You Get the Job Done, Content Was Always My Favorite Colour, Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk
You Are the Conductor EP
Holy shit! This is what it's all about, right here. Gutsy, painstaking, and damn straight to the point. The best 1-2-3 punch on album you'll find on this list.
listen to: Quovis, Further Up, Further In
A Coeur Léger Sommeil Sanglant
Surefire sign #68 a band can do no wrong: their band name is lifted straight off your all-time favorite album (A Silver Mt. Zion - He Has Left Us Alone). These guys will lull you into a passionate dreamstate. There is just too much to love about this album.
listen to: Facultatives Imaginaires, en Robe et en Eclats, Destroy All Dreamers, Sombrer Dans La Follie
Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson
Unnoticeable In A Tiny Town, Invisible In The City
One of the freshest surprises of the year, helping establish Scandanavia as the new Canada in terms of putting out the best new music. These guys do everything right, from the sampling to the guitar-tweaking. Marvelous album.
listen to: Yet We Continue to Build There the Structure, A Lost Not to be Read at Your Wedding, We May Be Remembered by What We Did When We Sat Down
Descended Like Vultures
The only "local" band on my list. Beautiful, masquerading rock action. There's a youthful innocence to this music, and it's sure to get anyone out of a slump.
genre: indie rock
listen to: Love's Lost Guarantee, You, Catform
I'm Really Sorry (That I Killed You)/Keep Your Love EP
Lyrics about one-night stands and dicing up penises for revenge may come off as mere parlor tricks, but the Loveninjas bring a brand of provocative instrumentation to back it all up. Seriously engaging music here.
genre: indie pop
listen to: Meet Me Here, My Lust is Dead, She Broke His Penis in Two
There's a Fire
At least these guys have an excuse for underperforming, a band reshuffle done twice over. But the core is still there. And it's still unbelievable music. Their experimental is still among tops in the game.
genre: shoegaze indie rock
listen to: There's a Fire, Underworld Song, River (Depot Song)
What We Must
Ahh, the sweet sounds of full orchestration jazz doing unprecendented things in the music world. This was a huge surprise given how banal their past albums were, and only leads one to be ever-optimistic about the bright future this band holds.
listen to: All I Know is Tonight, Stardust Hotel, Swedenborgke Rom
The only drawback to this album (read: 5 spots down) is the production with too much emphasis on vocals. When I saw these guys live, they blew me away, especially with the tandem of guitars and fiddle going crazy. A little more cowbell.
genre: indie rock
listen to: Mr. November, Secret Meeting, Karen
After the absolute borefest that was (), I had huge reservations about this album. Then they went and rediscovered their charm. Beautiful, sweet, crashing crescendos. I'm back in love.
listen to: Saeglopur, Gong, Hoppipolla
As soon as the opening track begins, I can feel my eyes well up and roll to the back of my head. I get completely lost in the transcendence. By far the most emotionally-evocative album on my list.
listen to: Jeka, Spetsnaz - Paul Leni, Zobione pt. 2
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I always challenge myself to have a negative predisposition with anything that is hyped. Unfortunately, this album's charm completely dispelled that and won me over. Another voice to grow used to, but richly rewarding just the same.
genre: indie rock
listen to: Over and Over Again (Lost and Found), Is This Love?, In This Home on Ice
The Future Embrace
I'll admit one weakness with music here...once an SP-head, always a Corgan-lover. I seem to like this a lot more than a lot of other people. But then I also think that while half the tracks on this record are brilliant, the rest are disgustingly bad (All Things Change, anyone?). That makes my opinion more valid than yours.
listen to: Mina Loy (M.O.H.), To Love Somebody, Now (And Then)
At the Soundless Dawn
Sweet Jesus, I can't get enough of these guys. When I had already denounced anything to do with country music, these guys come along and combine some country guitar work within the framework of some hardcore post-rock. Truly unique and incredible. I was left flattened when I had just missed watching them play live and had to listen to them in line while trying to find tickets. Such a sad day.
listen to: Alone and Unaware, A Brief Moment, Our Happiest Days
Surreal. Expansive, brutally purifying to the soul and body. This album will set your emotions into overdrive with ridiculous after riduculously good track. Perfect for long road trips.
listen to: What Heaven Allows, Wish, The Air Between Us
Speak For Yourself
One of the easiest albums of which to fall under a spell. Mesmerizing and haunting, yet full of life and vigor. Imogen has one of the most beautiful voices in the industry. Superb consistency across every track of this album.
listen to: Loose Ends, I Am in Love With You, Clear the Area
The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore
This is the exact formula for which all music should follow. Edgy, rockin, high-fret, and bombastic.
listen to: Marked With the Knowledge, This Shameless Moment, The Revolution Will Be Streaming
Silent Alarm (+ Remixed)
Everything these guys touch turns to gold. They churn out killer songs like candy. The most exciting new band of the year.
listen to: Positive Tension, This Modern Love, Banquet, So Here We Are
Nothing much more to say other than it's the most incredible album I've heard in a long time. Down to the drumming, the tandem of guitars and bass, the vocals....just everything flows like a champion. Undisputed winner.
listen to: Marginal Over, Arkless, End of Freedom, Post Plethoric Rhetoric, Say Can You See