Battles — Mirrored
Math rock meets heavy electronics. Battles is simply a powerhouse of talent that manages to somehow put it all together and become greater than the sum of its parts. This is the band’s first album, coming out soon on Warp Records. Battles combines beautifully intricate guitars with intense drumming, complex time signatures, and vocals filtered through trippy effects. Definitely one of the most original releases of the year.
Blonde Redhead — 23
Blonde Redhead expands on the melancholy shoegaze formula from its previous album and stretches things in many directions at once. Tracks like “Dr. Strangeluv” are reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s guitar textures, while the horns on “Sw” sound like The Beatles’s Penny Lane. This will definitely be one of the pop records of the year.
Gui Boratto — Chromophobia
Boratto’s first full length on Kompakt is a fantastic combination of minimal techno beats and beautiful melodies that expand and contract over time. The album is great in morsels and as a whole. I’d say it’s also a great introduction to minimal electronics for those who traditionally enjoy music with more guitars and vocals due to its varied sound and its suitability for both headphones and the dance floor.
The Field — From Here we go to Sublime
Axel Willner’s debut, also on Kompakt records, is an entirely different affair from Boratto’s. The first track, “Over The Ice,” sticks to a two-second loop for a few minutes. The song almost builds a wall around you the more you listen. I found myself getting lost somewhere in the middle of the album; every minute change in the music felt like an erupting volcano. I’d recommend this release for those who are more eager to deal with intense repetition.
Of Montreal — Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Of Montreal serves up an intense, exciting indie-rock album in the vein of previous releases, but not without some crazy surprises. The standout is the completely out-of-place 12-minute mountain of a track titled “The Past is a Grotesque Animal.” The song itself is an intense emotional journey, which feels much more serious than the surrounding tracks — fun to have in the middle of the album.