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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks | Mirror Traffic

Matador (2011)
Malkmus solo has always alternated concise "song" records between collections of the Jicks' sprawling jams (Pig Lib, Real Emotional Trash), but Mirror Traffic is the first time he's tried to make a Jicks-as-band record digestible.
By: DAN WEISS  |  August 16, 2011

ancient romans 3

Sun Araw | Ancient Romans

Sun Ark/Drag City (2011)
The hypnotic fifth LP by Sun Araw — the five-year-old solo project of Angelino Cameron Stallones — is a double-vinyl spiral through deep zones of neo-primitive psych-drone noise.
By: LIZ PELLY  |  August 16, 2011

active child 4

Active Child | You Are All I See

Vagrant Records (2011)
Pat Grossi used to be a choirboy, which is not surprising at all, given that his full-length debut under the Active Child moniker sounds like it was cut in some sort of dimly lit, hallowed hall under the cover of night.
By: MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  August 16, 2011


Ganglians | Still Living

Lefse (2011)
Perhaps because of the magical rays of the California sun — or maybe just a good-natured adventure with a bottle of peroxide — this time around, these Sacramento boys have turned beachy; and just in time to turn in one of the best records of the summer.
By: JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  August 16, 2011


Jay-Z + Kanye West | Watch the Throne

Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation (2011)
Kanye West has recently espoused the virtues of an album of raps suitable for home listening, as opposed to say club, or car listening.
By: MICHAEL C. WALSH  |  August 17, 2011


Patti Smith | Outside Society

Columbia/Arista/Legacy (2011)
Punk-rock-poet-priestess, Mapplethorpian-anti-pin-up-queen, rabble-rousing-riot-grrl-archetype: Patti Smith is your go-to rock icon when it comes to underbelly doppelgangers of Pat Benatar or Stevie Nicks.
By: ZETH LUNDY  |  August 10, 2011


The War on Drugs | Slave Ambient

Secretly Canadian (2011)
On Slave Ambient, Granduciel's love of tranced-out, yet strangely filtered arena rock jams is on full display.
By: JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  August 09, 2011


Various Artists | Johnny Boy Would Love This ... A Tribute to John Martyn

Hole In The Rain (2011)
If Nick Drake was Britain's ultimate forlorn folkie, John Martyn was his jazzier bro, a pub crawler with an intoxicating way of creating richly desolate moods.
By: JIM MACNIE  |  August 10, 2011


Gold Leaves | The Ornament

Hardly Art (2011)
Grant Olsen, former strummer for Seattle folk duo Arthur & Yu, took the better part of four years to craft The Ornament, his solo coming out party as Gold Leaves.
By: RYAN REED  |  August 11, 2011


Hot Water Music | The Fire, The Steel, The Tread/Adds Up to Nothing

No Idea/Chunksaah
It's been seven long years since Gainesville, Florida's Hot Water Music have released any new music.
By: LUKE O'NEIL  |  August 19, 2011


Machinedrum | Room(s)

Planet Mu (2011)
For the uninitiated, footwork is a relatively fresh-faced distant relative of Chicago house.
By: MICHAEL C. WALSH  |  August 10, 2011


Dom | Family of Love

Astralwerks (2011)
After writing and recording most of his debut record in Worcester bedrooms with DIY sweat,beat-up paisley guitars, old Casios, and computer programs, this time he's upgraded to a proper studio session with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Björk), experimenting with a "dial tone solo" and Fun Machine keyboard.
By: MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  August 03, 2011


Fountains of Wayne | Sky Full of Holes

Yep Roc (2011)
Sky Full of Holes, the first Fountains album in four years, is another reminder of why the band deserve some limelight of their own.
By: RYAN REED  |  August 03, 2011


La Big Vic | Actually

Underwater Peoples (2011)
La Big Vic's Actually is thus far the most compelling avant-pop record to emerge from Brooklyn's inspired 2011 underground.
By: LIZ PELLY  |  August 03, 2011

memory tapes list

Memory Tapes | Player Piano

Carpark (2011)
Tinny, lonely keyboards and aching romanticism lead the way for Player Piano's first two tracks, but a minute into "Today Is Our Life" it seems like the dude wants to create a song hopeful enough to end an '80s teen rom-com on a high note.
By: REYAN ALI  |  August 03, 2011

pepper rabbit-l

Pepper Rabbit | Red Velvet Snow Ball

Kanine (2011)
Were Zach Braff still struggling to get Garden State made, there's no doubt one of these songs would have made the mix CD he was shopping around Hollywood with his script.
By: MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  August 03, 2011

tmbg list

They Might Be Giants | Join Us

Idlewild/Rounder (2011)
I don't formally speak for all TMBG fans, but I think I speak for most TMBG fans when I say that every post-John Henry studio release has been greeted with crossed fingers and a mantra: "Pre-John Henry caliber."
By: ZETH LUNDY  |  August 03, 2011

BT list

Big Talk | Big Talk

Epitaph (2011)
Following in the footsteps of perpetually uncool drummer-turned-solo artists Phil Collins and Don Henley, Killers stick-man Ronnie Vannucci tries his hand at writing '80s arena anthems while his main gig takes a time-out.
By: RYAN REED  |  July 26, 2011

BC List

Brilliant Colors | Again and Again

Slumberland (2011)
Following the San Francisco trio's 2009 debut Introducing, the new jams maintain the same twee-pop roots via C86, Creation, and Flying Nun influences, and continue taking cues from their own label's early noise-pop roster.
By: LIZ PELLY  |  July 26, 2011

CT List

Com Truise | Galactic Melt

Ghostly International (2011)
The glassy, hallucinogenic, and goofy electronics straddle this indecisive middle ground between creating something soothing and something to get your blood pumping.
By: REYAN ALI  |  July 26, 2011

FO List

Frank Ocean | Nostalgia, Ultra

Self-released (2011)
If anyone's earned the right to bitch about the limitations of being slotted "R&B," it's Frank Ocean.
By: DAN WEISS  |  July 27, 2011

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