PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists: If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by our quality readership.
PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists: If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by our quality readership.

Slipped Discs 2011 – Part 3: From Real Estate to Youth Lagoon

Artist: Real Estate

Album: Days

Label: Domino

US Release Date: 2011-10-18

UK Release Date: 2011-10-17

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Real Estate

With Days, Real Estate has crafted a soundtrack for doing nothing and whiling away the time. Real Estate’s loosey-goosey aesthetic is quintessentially indie, but the New Jersey outfit’s languorous melodies seem to revel in ennui even more than your average slack-rock band. So while Real Estate is basically a straightforward, stripped-down guitar-based affair, there’s something almost luxurious and extravagant in the way its rich vocal harmonies and the jangly guitars unwind themselves in their own sweet time. The gem of a single “Green Aisles” all but announces Real Estate’s m.o. when frontman Martin Courtney sings on the chorus, “All those aimless drives through green aisles / Our careless lifestyle / It was not so unwise.” That’s certainly true in the case of Real Estate, a band that’s going places, just taking the scenic route to get there. Arnold Pan


Artist: Todd Reynolds

Album: Outerborough

Label: Innova

US Release Date: 2011-03-29

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Todd Reynolds

When a calendar year wraps up, most of the previous 12 month’s best music neatly falls into some specific category. Todd Reynolds is one of those unfortunate souls designed to slip through the cracks every December because he just doesn’t seem to conveniently fit anywhere. From the perspective of a classically-inclined violinist, Reynolds has left no stone unturned and his 2011 double album Outerborough is proof positive of that. You’ve got a old blues samples (“Crossroads”), a first-person account of a gay soldier struggling in the military (“and the sky was still there”), tense modernism (“A Needle Pulling Fred”), heavily manipulated strings (“The End of an Orange”, “Fast Pasture”) and a brand new instrument invented just to play a particular piece (see video). Outerborough may be sprawling and lacking in consistency, but it proves that those things can have upsides. Sometimes, they’re even good enough to be a slipped disc. John Garratt


Artist: Gruff Rhys

Album: Hotel Shampoo

Label: Turnstile

US Release Date: 2011-02-22

UK Release Date: 2011-02-14

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Gruff Rhys
Hotel Shampoo

While we’ve all been awaiting for the follow to Dark Days/Light Years from the Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys has one heckuva solo/side project career for himself — Candylion, Neon Neon, that one with the Brazilian TV repairman — that it’s become easy to take his consistently high output level for granted. That certainly seems to be the fate that’s befallen the excellent Hotel Shampoo‘s XXX songs that play to Rhys’ neo-psych-tropicalia tendencies. There’s no duds here, and indeed, “Shark Ridden Waters”, “Honey All Over” and “Christopher Columbus” all rate as top-tier Rhys material. Had a new artist debuted these songs, the blogosphere would be heralding the arrival of a major new force. As it is, we’ll have to content ourselves celebrating talent, clever (“like Christopher Columbus, you have a lot to answer for”), victim-of-his-own-dependability ol’ Gruff Rhys as he adds yet-another gent to the embarrassment of riches that is his discography. Stephen Haag


Artist: The Roots

Album: undun

Label: Def Jam

US Release Date: 2011-12-06

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The Roots

Easiest justification for leaving Undun out of the “Best of 2011” list? It came out nearly two weeks after our deadline. Had it been released a few weeks earlier, Undun would have been granted almost immediate entrance into the “Best Albums” category. Amazingly released only one year after their superb How I Got Over, Undun ups the ambition by having a story start from the grave and eventually gives its flawed, fated character a voice. Yes, it’s a concept album. And yes, the last songs are best described as a free-form jazz composition, but what makes Undun so irresistibly playable is its simple collection of truly great songs. Other Roots albums have rewarded listener’s patient ears, but songs lie “Make My” and “The Other Side” waste no time in sinking in. Undun, despite its bleak premise, locks you in it its first moments and never lets up. Sean McCarthy


Artist: S.C.U.M.

album: Again Into Eyes

Label: Mute

US Release Date: 2011-10-04

UK Release Date: 2011-09-12

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Again Into Eyes

Ironically taking their name from Valerie Solanas’s notorious radical feminist SCUM Manifesto, East London band S.C.U.M. showed a great deal of growth on their much-ballyhooed debut album. Unlike the quintet’s overtly gothic, atmospheric early singles, Again Into Eyes was much more polished and streamlined, and that new sonic clarity worked tremendously in their favor. Sure, we have heard this all before, as the band treads the same well-worn territory as Echo and the Bunnymen and Simple Minds, but the way they throw themselves completely into the aesthetic and bombast of the music is likeable, creating a series of concise songs that are as haunting as they are single-worthy. Bolstered by the brooding affectations of singer Thomas Cohen, S.C.U.M. could be on the similar receiving end of major critical praise in the future as their peers in the Horrors are now. Adrien Begrand


Artist: SIXX A.M.

Album: This Is Gonna Hurt

Label: Eleven Seven Music

US Release Date: 2011-05-03

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This Is Gonna Hurt

SIXX A.M., the side project of Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx (along with singer/songwriter James Michael and Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba), offers a sophomore effort that borders on performance art. Intertwined with a Sixx-penned book of the same name featuring photographs of human oddities, the songs on This Is Gonna Hurt are finely-cobbled from both a musical and lyrical standpoint, allowing the listener to pick out something new on each listen. The lyrical content is worlds away from the party-hearty lyrics of Mötley Crüe, showcasing Sixx’s versatility and growth as an artist over his 30-year career. Songs range from personal introspection to brutal criticisms of a world obsessed with a rigid standard of media-dictated “beauty”. Sixx pushes the envelope, campaigning hard to become the Deepak Chopra of Rock. It’s more than just an epithet, however, as his lyrics urge listeners to examine their own lives (particularly on the outstanding “Are You With Me Now”) to find out just what makes them tick. Lana Cooper

Sloan and more…

Artist: Sloan

Album: The Double Cross

Label: Yep Roc

US Release Date: 2011-05-10

UK Release Date: 2011-05-09

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The Double Cross

Sloan celebrated 20 years as a band in 2011 with this cleverly-named album that served as a potent reminder of what great power-pop sounds like. The songs are super-catchy, but they rock hard enough to keep the hooks from becoming saccharine. The album opens with four consecutive uptempo tracks, and each one flows seamlessly into the next. The pounding “Follow the Leader” slides right into the excellent pop of “The Answer Was You”, which fades into the singalong single “Unkind” and crashes into the snotty “Shadow of Love.” When the album finally takes a breath, it’s for “She’s Slowing Down Again”, one of drummer Andrew Scott’s best songs in a long time. The remainder of the album is just as solid. From the acoustic “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” to the ‘bright ’70s pop of “Your Daddy Will Do” to the 90-second pop-punk blast of “I’ve Gotta Know”, Sloan is firing on all cylinders here. The fact that The Double Cross clocks in at just under 34 minutes is proof that a great album doesn’t have a minimum time limit. Chris Conaton


Artist: Son Lux

Album: We Are Rising

Label: Anticon

US Release Date: 2011-05-31

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Son Lux
We Are Rising

Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux) is the wave of the future. We Are Rising was written and recorded from scratch over a 28-day period through the patronage of NPR. Think Kickstarter on a grand scale, hey why not? Son Lux is the kind of project ripe for this type of collaboration. The resulting album is a successful mash-up of organic and self created electronic sounds that is a beautiful melting pot. Let’s hope we hear more of this zeitgeist emerge as talented musicians continue to experiment with, “… sounds whose origins are acoustic but whose qualities are clearly augmented”. This approach on We Are Rising results in not the best, but one of the most worthwhile albums of 2011. The thoughtful and surprising arrangements, production, and sounds are atypical inside of the pop music landscape. His unique industrial beats are placed on the same par as the string quartet. Son Lux live shows are a mix of modern dance, drums, strings, and computer samples mixed and triggered live. Ryan Lott has a knack for approaching his compositions like a computer guy, then somehow humanizing them in a way that is seldom heard. A musician for the 21st century. Progressive musicianship, patronage of the arts, and a true spirit of collaboration make this one of the slipped discs of 2011. Philip Majorins


Artist: Omar Souleyman

Album: Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts

Label: Sublime Frequencies

US Release Date: 2011-08-30

UK Release Date: 2011-09-05

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Omar Souleyman
Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts

The Syrian pop singer Omar Souleyman set off to Europe thinking that he would make the entire continent exhausted and deaf. Who could stand in his way? No one, says Haflat Gharbia. No one could stand in his way. The man is a juggernaut. A showman. His energy is inexhaustible. Like a jackhammer he sings about love. Like a strobe light: his keyboard. And Sublime Frequencies will assist him with this raw-messy bleeding crammed recording. Not an ideal recording, says someone who was there — one of the musicians is almost inaudible. But we’re not here for perfection. We’re here for the exhaustion, the deafness, and the spectacle of his stamina. Deanne Sole


Artist: SubRosa

Album: No Help For the Mighty Ones

Label: Profound Lore

US Release Date: 2011-03-01

UK Release Date: 2011-03-07

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No Help For the Mighty Ones

Crushingly, densely, almost impossibly thunderously melodic, No Help for the Mighty Ones is probably more accessible than most doom metal. That the main melodic elements are the female voice and the electric violin aren’t typical for the form, to boot. But whether you’re a metal devotee or novice, there’s something towering and inescapable about these songs (even the brief, a cappella version of folk ballad “House Carpenter”), something filled with rage and defiance for the mighty ones, for the systems that would hold us down, even within ourselves. “Then I turned myself against myself / I waged a war within myself,” they sing on “Stonecarver”. And in all of its sweat and blood, here is the sound of that hard, necessary struggle. “One day, I’ll be like a bird in flight,” they swear, and this album is the sound of them taking wing. Ian Mathers


Artist: Alex Turner

Album: Submarine OST

Label: Domino

US Release Date: 2011-03-15

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Alex Turner
Submarine OST

Submarinewas a nice film but nothing to write home about, yet its soundtrack is a heartbreaking, knee-buckling gorgeous little album. This decidedly minor in scope, but immense in depth, EP starts pitch perfectly with a simple piano and acoustic guitar preview of “Stuck on the Puzzle”, which appears in full, four songs later on the album. Cutting off before the chorus, the song flashes the humble beauty of Turner’s songwriting. Turner paints decidedly in between the lines on this one but is able to show the potential power of touching pop balladry. Still, considering that his day job is fronting one of the world’s biggest rock bands, the Arctic Monkeys — who themselves released a much more talked about album in 2011 — it seems unlikely that this soundtrack will be discussed often as he cements his legacy. But it does stand as a testament to the range of one the generation’s most skilled songsmiths. Jesse Fox


Artist: Chad VanGaalen

Album: Diaper Island

Label: Sub Pop

US Release Date: 2011-05-17

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Chad VanGaalen
Diaper Island

After producing two records by Women, the Calgary-based recording artist emerged wild-eyed from his home studio, having merged Soft Airplane’s homespun psychedelic lo-pop with a visceral, seemingly Women-inspired garage-grunge urgency to brilliant effect. VanGaalen’s earlier records were pieced together from an unruly archive of basement home recordings; Diaper Island, by contrast, is the first to be recorded in VanGaalen’s home studio, and it sounds purposeful, noisy, even uncharacteristically riff-driven. “Willow Tree” fans will heed well the whistling melancholia of “Sara” and the eerie, piercing “Shave My Pussy”, but they’ll have to contend with the unexpected squall of “Burning Photographs” and “Blonde Hash” along the way. The result is the artist’s most confident and distinctly band-like statement yet. Women is apparently defunct, but VanGaalen seems to have more left turns in him yet. Zach Schonfeld


Artist: Vektor

Album: Outer Isolation

Label: Megaforce

US Release Date: 2011-12-06

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Outer Isolation

Arriving late in the year, the third album by Arizona thrash metal band Vektor slid in past the deadlines for the year-end lists, and by the beginning of December, many, yours truly included, were aghast at just how good Outer Isolation turned out to be. While most young thrash bands are perfectly content staying within the same rigid formula as bands like Testament and Kreator, Vektor actually tries to do something original on this record, throwing in dissonant riffs and sci-fi-obsessed lyrical themes that bear an uncanny resemblance to Canadian metal innovators Voivod. Considering that Voivod is one of the most inimitable bands in metal history, that’s very high praise, and Vektor takes that influence and creates something they can call their own, the end result being one of the cleverest thrash albums in years. Adrien Begrand

Eddie Vedder and more…

Artist: Eddie Vedder

Album: Ukulele Songs

Label: Monkeywrench

US Release Date: 2011-05-31

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Eddie Vedder
Ukulele Songs

A mix of originals and standards, Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs is clearly an album made on his terms without commercial success in mind. The deceptive simplicity of these songs are, in fact, a logical step when following Vedder’s career. With Pearl Jam, Vedder and the rest of the band have run the gamut from huge rockers to punk to ballads, but with his work on the Into the Wild soundtrack Vedder has continued to stretch himself as a singer, as well as a songwriter. His duets with Chan Marshall (“Tonight You Belong to Me”) and Glen Hansard (“Sleepless Nights”) also offer another side to Vedder, whose voice is so distinct that hearing him blend with others is a welcome change. The songs are intimate and often very beautiful, and it is Vedder’s obvious connection to the instrument, and the counterpoint of its delicacy with his voice, that brings them to life with such immediacy. Jessica Suarez


Artist: TW Walsh

Album: Songs of Pain and Leisure

Label: Graveface

US Release Date: 2011-10-11

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TW Walsh
Songs of Pain and Leisure

When you think the term “indie rock”, you might think of the sound TW Walsh makes on his excellent Songs of Pain and Leisure. It’s all guitar and drums and bass and keys, but if the elements seem basic, even simple, the execution is far from it. Walsh’s album — his first solo record since 2001’s Blue Laws — is full of brilliant pop songs that shift tempo and mood without ever losing energy. From the bright drums and sharp riffs of “Make It Rhyme” to the ghostly acoustics of “Rattling Jar”, the album varies in its textures but remains pitch perfect throughout. Infused with equal parts regret for the past and hope for the future, Songs of Pain and Leisure acknowledges that titular pain but never beds down in it. Rather these songs, even at their most stripped down — propel past that pain into whatever it is that comes next. Walsh may be best known as part of Pedro the Lion, or as the guy who mastered Sufjan Stevens’ The Age of Adz, but if you haven’t heard his own stuff, then you don’t know him yet for what he’s best at. Matthew Fiander


Artist: Warm Ghost

Album: Narrows

Label: Partisan

US Release Date: 2011-09-27

UK Release Date: Import

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Warm Ghost

Fighting against a trend is hard; even harder yet is trying to stand out in a trend that’s gaining popularity. Such seemed to be the case with Warm Ghost, whose two stellar releases in 2011 (the EP Uncut Diamond and their debut LP Narrows) were overlooked in lieu of several other releases in the regrettably named chillwave scene. Those recordings, notably Toro Y Moi’s Under the Pine and Washed Out’s Within and Without, while not bad by any means, shouldn’t excuse the large lack of attention given to the excellent music to be found on Narrows. Very wisely, the band makes emotive use of the synthesizer, using it to create moods and textures rather than catchy riffs. (Frankly, no synth riff could have been conceived in 2011 that was catchier than M83’s “Midnight City”). And what a gorgeous textures there are on Narrows: album highlight “Once One” is otherworldly in its beauty. That track, along with the rest of the tracks that comprise the musical collage that is Narrows, make a strong case that Warm Ghost are a band that still have great things yet to come. Brice Ezell


Artist: Chris Watson

Album: El Tren Fantasma

Label: Touch

US Release Date: 2011-10-25

UK Release Date: 2011-11-14

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Chris Watson
El Tren Fantasma

Descriptions make this album sound prosaic. British sound recordist Chris Watson rode a train from coast to coast across Mexico and Fantasma is a collage of recordings he made during the trip. But nothing else I heard in 2011 could match it for denseness of evocative compression. His attention is holistic. He listens not only to the engine but also to the landscape, the weather, the difference between one area of the machine and another. Birds are not only birds, they are daytime itself, and near the end we have insects and night. Watson organises plein air noise with the camouflaged intelligence of a Monet whose eyes were ears. Deanne Sole


Artist: We Are Augustines

Album: Rise Ye Sunken Ships

Label: WEA

US Release Date: 2011-08-23

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We Are Augustines
Rise Ye Sunken Ships

Guitarist Billy McCarthy and bassist Eric Sanderson, both originally of the band Pela, joined with drummer Rob Allen to produce one of the most relentlessly authentic records of the year. With stories inspired partially by the resilient life and untimely death of McCarthy’s brother, Rise Ye Sunken Ships is a kind of concept album about traveling the long road out of despair and making the best of trying circumstances. Combining a Springsteen-like “common-man” authenticity with an Arcade Fire-like anthemic quality and the emotional nakedness of the National, We Are Augustines is one of the greatest undiscovered secrets in indie rock. Jacob Adams


Artist: We Were Promised Jetpacks

Album: In the Pit of the Stomach

Label: FatCat

US Release Date: 2011-10-04

UK Release Date: 2011-10-03

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We Were Promised Jetpacks
In the Pit of the Stomach

The pride of Glasgow, We Were Promised Jetpacks, along with country mates Frightened Rabbit, were breakout stars at South by Southwest in 2010, consistently delivering high energy sets that showcased their 2009 debut release, These Four Walls. So it’s only natural that by doubling their time in the studio, from eight days to a ‘whopping’ three weeks, the band would outdo the success of their debut with a relentless album that demands to be heard live, while featuring some of the most inventive arrangements of a 2011 release. The album cover depicts a human figure pacing boldly within the confines of a big city high rise canyon, suited to the band’s penchant of sneaking up on you mid-song

The album blasts off with “Circles and Squares”, an inverted track that starts with a long solo transition and bridge that seems to rise from the ashes. Seemingly caught in the midst of an extended Rush instrumental solo, the song kicks into a taut brisk tempo, before changing tempo again, offering three songs in one composition clocking in at over five minutes. The next track, “Medicine” possesses a relentless pacing that seems in danger of careening out of control, the song hinting at the danger of wasting one’s valuable years. “Dirt and the Gravel” also sneaks up on listener, showcasing the long instrumental solos that are a hallmark of the album, with at least two minutes elapsing before the first verses kick in on “Act on Impulse” or “Sore Thumb”. The one song that leaps out immediately is “Human Error”, likely to be a fan favorite for a video that counters the notion initially suggested of “hoarding one’s opinion to avoid seeing how wrong one can be”, giving way to a theme that demands instead that people live life to the fullest. Lead singer Adam Thompson varies his vocal stylings, delivering a catchy Scottish brogue, or muffling his vocals in a manner that creates the effect of emanating from the very back of the room. Dennis Shin

The Wild Swans and more…

Artist: The Wild Swans

Album: The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years

Label: Kitten Charmer

US Release Date: 2011-08-02

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The Wild Swans
The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years

The Wild Swans were part of the same late 1970s Liverpool scene that begat Echo & the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, and the Icicle Works. Though they released the revered “The Revolutionary Spirit” / “God Forbid” single, they never had the same commercial impact as their peers. Their debut album Bringing Home the Ashes (1988) became a cult classic, but the band’s leader, Paul Simpson, was never satisfied with it. In 2008, he decided to revive the Wild Swans, and the result was The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years. That title belied the warmth of the introspective, literate guitar pop within. An all-star lineup including former Echo bassist Les Pattinson leant a crisp, no-frills freshness to a batch of songs so strong they transcended mere nostalgia. At their best, the Wild Swans could transport you to a place where noble ideals met with complicated realities. The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years was full of those moments. John Bergstrom


Artist: Steven Wilson

Album: Grace for Drowning (Deluxe Edition)

Label: Kscope

US Release Date: 2011-09-27

UK Release Date: 2011-09-26

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Steven Wilson
Grace for Drowning (Deluxe Edition)

At first glance, a lot of Grace for Drowning is emblematic of the least-liked elements of progressive rock. The record is a double album just shy of an hour and a half’s worth of music, which even in a time where CDs can hold a lot of music is too long for many. One of the album’s songs runs 23 minutes, a notable departure from what most people will casually listen to. And then there’s the music itself: ranging from ambient choral pieces to daunting displays of progressive jazz, the majority of Grace for Drowning is proudly prog. The album, however, is not a run-of-the-mill epic prog recording. The skill and uncompromising vision of Wilson make Grace for Drowning unlike any other long prog double album. The album is diverse, but not disorganized. The music is challenging, but not in a way that’s inaccessible. To wit, there’s “Postcard,” a four-minute piano ballad that features a choral part so beautiful it just might make your heart stop. In a more just musical universe, the song would get solid radio play. Nevertheless, despite the typical prog traits that seem to indict the record, Grace for Drowning is a layered, lush musical experience that all can enjoy. This is prog at its best, as only a master like Wilson could do it. Brice Ezell


Artist: Chelsea Wolfe

Album: Ἀποκάλυψις

Label: Pendu Sound

US Release Date: 2011-08-30

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Chelsea Wolfe

“DEMONS! DEEEMONS!” Finally, an album so spookily terrifying that its own creator’s eyes permanently rolled back into their skull to escape the horror unleashed! God only knows how she makes a cup of tea in the morning now. It begins with what sounds like a feral, godless banshee literally being born, before upon thus strides the devil’s daughter, conceived of PJ Harvey and Nick Cave and weeping for eternity (OK, 38 minutes) at the edge of the blackest, deepest ocean beneath an icy, silvery moon. Bring your finest hooded-robe party people as Ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalypsis for non-horned, non-fork carrying readers) wants to swallow your soul for supper. Lusty, serpentine, windswept, ancient, romantic and hypnotically enchanting. Hunt it down, dial its magick numbers under cover of darkness ‘n’ solitude and let it ignite your dark, bloody heart. Just don’t look her directly in the eye! Matt James


Artist: The Wombats

Album: This Modern Glitch

Label: Bright Antenna

US Release Date: 2011-04-26

UK Release Date: 2011-04-25

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The Wombats
This Modern Glitch

Although pop music absolutely dominated all of 2011, it’s hard to think of any pop album that was as witty, fun, or damn-near replayable as the Wombats’ sophomore album, This Modern Glitch. Although their quirky 2007 single “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” introduced a group who knew how to wryly mock the pop music masses while simultaneously delivering monster hooks, Glitch shows that they’ve fully come into their own, adding in string sections and crunchy synth blasts to what has become their signature sound: dry, nervy guitars constantly on the hunt for arena-rocking choruses. Best of all, however, is frontman Matthew Murphy’s deft wordplay, detailing the pain of being dragged to a club only to discover he actually likes dance music (“Techno Fan”), pleading for his love to let him lift her up when she’s down (“Please allow me to be your anti-depressant / I’m prescribed as freely as any decongestant” he sings on “Anti-D”), and working in a relationship where “self-help might help when it makes is laugh” (“Walking Disasters”). Few albums last year were as catchy, humorous, or just damn-near joyous as This Modern Glitch was, and at the rate it’s going now, even 2012 is going to have a hell of a time trying to catch up to this modern day pop masterwork. Evan Sawdey


Artist: WU LYF

Album: Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

Label: L Y F

US Release Date: 2011-09-06

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Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

WU LYF spent 2010 shrouded in mystery. There was an image of a masked gang of Manchester youths and some demos that sounded like Modest Mouse by way of another dimension. In 2011 they showed their faces and released a proper album with a properly tribal title. It’s not tribal like how it’s commonly used, in cases like Panda Bear, to connote nothing more than some breathy lyric repetition and a preference for tom over snare—no, WU LYF sound like a less evolved sapiens trying to shout their way through speech. The album is as viscerally satisfying and undeniable as any debut in recent memory. Now in 2012 the band seems poised for the global domination their full name (World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation) implies; the first stop was a complete annihilation of the Letterman stage (as seen below). Jesse Fox


Artist: Youth Lagoon

Album: The Year of Hibernation

Label: Fat Possum

US Release: 2011-09-27

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Youth Lagoon
The Year of Hibernation

When I was a teenager, long before the wide adoption of cell phones, I would hide under my blanket whispering over the landline telephone to my girlfriend. Hours would go by and though we never talked about anything substantial, the tone of these long winded chats would take on the hushed, earnest tones of a confessional booth. At 3am we knew we would catch hell if we awoke our parents, but we didn’t want to end these calls, even though we would see each other again in the hallways and classrooms four hours later. Trevor Powers captured that ubiquitous time in life we can all fondly remember and recorded these songs in his own bedroom. On “17”, his voice warbled by effects, he sounds like he is reading from his diary at summer camp: “When I was 17 / My mother said to me / Don’t stop imagining / The day that you do / Is the day that you die.” It’s funny how at 17 I would have rolled my eyes at such a statement but at 30, I feel like I received a much needed dose of perspective. In his debut album, Powers makes a strong case to disprove that youth is wasted on the young. Eddie Ciminelli