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Mom + Pop (2013)
"I Can't Dream," the closer on Wavves' fourth studio album, opens in a drunken lo-fi stupor — Nathan Williams warbling bratty, tone-deaf nonsense over hissy acoustic power chords.
Cult Records (2013)
After a half-decade of semi-obscurity, frontman Donald Cumming is redefining his band as the hipster sultans of swing.
Kid A , Radiohead's confounding electro-rock masterpiece, is officially hitting puberty.
Warner Bros (2013)
Atlas Genius are schooled students of modern pop architecture, seamlessly bouncing from Coldplay-styled acoustic rock to fizzy Phoenix funkiness to deadpanned Strokes-ian guitar chug. But When It Was Now is more like an alt-pop NOW compilation than a joyous synthesis.
Even at their most expansive, Foals are digging into more primal territory.
Fat Possum Records (2013)
With the frustrating and often brilliant II, these oddball psych-pop New Zealanders have sunk even deeper into the swampy digs of why-fi — as in, "Why the hell tarnish such excellent songs with such half-assed fidelity?"
Frenchkiss Records (2013)
Local Natives' sophomore album bows out with closer "Bowery," a brooding indie-rock epic. But its true climax arrives a track earlier.
Barsuk Records (2013)
On their woefully underrated first two albums, Ra Ra Riot worked their trademark art-pop sweet spot.
Carpark Records (2013)
Chaz Bundick's done with chillwave, the lo-fi, underwater synth-pop fad that propelled his Toro y Moi project to hipster-blog stardom.
Fat Possum Records (2013)
Who knows what fans were expecting with Girls frontman Christopher Owens's debut solo album — but whatever it was, it likely didn't involve madrigal flutes and Jim Croce fingerpicking.
Def Jam (2012)
"Been a handsome-ass nigga since my mama wiped my bottom," raps Antwan Patton (a/k/a Big Boi, a/k/a Sir Lucious L. Leftfoot, a/k/a Daddy Fat Sax, a/k/a Billy Ocean) minutes into his schizoid sophomore album.
Sub Pop (2012)
All in all, Virile Lore feels more "deleted scene" than "director's cut."
Universal Republic (2012)
Modern R&B is, no doubt, in the midst of an experimental renaissance — artists like Frank Ocean, Drake, the-Dream, and even Usher are expanding the genre's sonic playbook by going darker and weirder, incorporating elements of dance-pop, trip-hop, and warped indie rock.
Reprise Records (2012)
Deftones' brand of metal is artful and spacey, patient and textured: Stephen Carpenter's de-tuned distortion washes over like menacing storm clouds; Abe Cunningham's dextrous drumming takes cues from both hip-hop and prog; and, at his most melodic, Chino Moreno is the greatest art-rock vocalist on the planet.
Matador Records (2012)
It has taken a decade, but Paul Banks has finally written his mission statement in song: "Death will come by ocean, I want that guarantee," he sings on "I Paid for That," a propulsive cut from his debut solo album.
"Love is a drug, and it's the only one I'm dealing," raps gender-bending synth-pop siren John O'Regan deep into his sophomore album.
Barsuk Records (2012)
"It's been a basement of a year," Ben Gibbard sings over a perky two-chord strum on the saccharine "Oh, Woe." It's hard not to take him literally.
Warp Records (2012)
On Until the Quiet Comes , his reliably solid fourth studio album, Flying Lotus's Steven Ellison continues to bang out mind-bending electro-donut jams for folks who don't quite "get" electronic music.
Three years ago, London folk-rock quartet Mumford & Sons blew up in a major way with "The Cave," an angst-fueled, Grammy-nominated strummer built on quiet-loud dynamics, Country Marshall's propulsive banjo, and Marcus Mumford's gruff bellow, which churned like a locomotive in free-fall.
The initial moments of "Sleeping Ute" are so quintessentially Grizzly Bear, they almost have no impact — Daniel Rossen nurses jagged, staggering chords on an electric guitar likely purchased from a 12th-century pawn shop.
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