"If I grew my hair out, I'd probably look like Fergie"
The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse
Apparently this came out at the beginning of the year but I'd never heard of the thing until everyone started talking top 20. Which is straight-up garbage; this must be what Midlake sounds like.
Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil
After all the talk about what assholes these guys are, I started to breathe easy for missing their Siren set. But hey, this is actually okay. More chromatic than the less distinguishable Black Keys, and certainly more fun. Since I undoubtedly prefer Kinks to 13th Floor Elevators, though, the new Hives is way preferable, but I plan to stick with this a little harder say, the Von Bondies in 2004.
Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
Mmmmmmmm....as much I want to like this guy who signifies "wacky," "fun," "random," etc., he's not actually that wacky or random. So how fun can he really be? Boils down to a must-be ironic fetishization of mid-90s rave-pop like Aqua so impressed with its integration of Woody Woodpecker's laugh that it names the track after it lest you not notice the ingenious sample. I'm pretty sure my love for "Crystal Cat" is real--as long as the video's on. But nothing here even comes close to the genius of this, which I hope qualifies as a video of the year (it's by musicians, anyway).
Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
I'd pretty much had it with this guy, and was ready to surrender that he'd never hit me again without saving Calexico's ass in the process. But though I fell asleep to it last night (for the right reasons), I did notice some songs before my eyes shut, especially what I'm pretty sure was "White Tooth Man." I'm certain to play this again today and check.
Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
Another case of hype debut giving a profoundly ordinary follow-up too fair a shake? Well, since the debut wasn't that hype in the first place beyond its epic single (indiecrits hate calling a spade a spade with one-hit wonders, i.e. "Magheeta"/It Still Moves) it's not too hard for me to say I think this eclipses it with a straight face. I'll have to go back to Everything All the Time and compare, of course. But already I notice two country-leaning stunners with the Shins all over them. And it helps my perspective that this time the single sucks.
Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm
I didn't know what to expect, but I love women, guitahz and off-rhythms. Turns out it's the worst case scenario: Deerhoof + Karen O. But it makes the best of it. Unlike Deerhoof albums, this will grow annoying on the terms of its own sound rather than a slew of actually annoying tracks after the first three. It's a bit of a one trick pony, but I'm kind of hankering for it again. That's one advantage it enjoys over Is Is or Friend Opportunity*.
*There is a fantastic Tom Ze rip on this album, I just forget what it's called.
The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City
More extreme, explicit weirdness than the Marnie Stern. I remain in awe of how prolific old Matthew Friedberger remembers his own time signatures changes this often (didn't he just knock out a double?). I bet he can't remember how to play "I'm Gonna Run." In any case, I was mostly struck by the thwack of bass-heavy hiphop-style breaks and fills all over the place. Eleanor's (Matthew's?) lyrics are positively insane at this point. This makes Blueberry Boat look like a (very long) walk in the park in terms of challenge, so I might as well accept.
But none of these matches the originality, variety or intelligence of Mac Lethal's strangely hype-invisible 11:11.