People Get Ready – People Get Ready
Combining the experimental pop of Dirty Projectors with a slight lean toward Yeasayer‘s psych rock, People Get Ready’s debut album has everything I didn’t find on those two artists’ new releases (Yeasayer’s Fragrant World was a pleasant surprise, though). Steven Reker, once a guitarist/dancer for David Byrne, might have picked up a few things from the former Talking Heads frontman, but he takes it in a wonderfully unique direction.
Grizzly Bear – Shields
Grizzly Bear‘s latest album was a slow-burning beauty. While not as immediate as 2009’s “Two Weeks,” songs like “Yet Again” slowly creep into your subconscious (and subsequently into your best-of list). From singles like “Sleeping Ute” to the swirling “Speak in Rounds,” the band perfected their dark atmospheres on Shields.
Lucero – Women & Work
Lucero is no longer the country-punk band from a decade ago. 2009’s 1372 Overton Park saw some hints at horn-centered soul, a change completely cemented by Women & Work. Though the band has changed considerably, it’s hard to miss it much when they’re rocking through the album’s title track or the Van Morrison-styled “Like Lightning.”
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Cobra Juicy
Despite the bizarre lyrics and thick blanket of effects, Black Moth Super Rainbow‘s fifth album sounds deeply rooted in classic rock. Everything from the big riffs of “Windshield Smasher” and “Hairspray Heart” to the pedal steel of “Psychic Love Damage” recall ’70s rock, but it’s still plenty weird. “Dreamsicle Bomb” is a synth explosion, “Gangs in the Garden” is a strange dance party that only Black Moth Super Rainbow could create.
The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
Kristian Matsson first caught our attention with 2010’s The Wild Hunt. While it might not top his sophomore album, There’s No Leaving Now — his third record as the Tallest Man on Earth — completely recaptures our attention and imagination. Matsson’s stark acoustic songs are as beautiful as ever.