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Top 10: Pelican, M.A.N.D.Y., Atlas Sound

Pelican
After the Ceiling Cracked
Hydrahead
Release Date: January 22

The bulk of this DVD is footage from Pelican’s December 20, 2005 set at The Scala in London. That alone would make After the Ceiling Cracked worth the 16 bucks it costs, but Hydra Head has also included several more clips of live footage from various Pelican tours, some interviews, and a photo gallery that shows the boys hamming it up for the camera. Pelican plays the kind of instrumental rock that often brings to mind the word “abstract,” and it’s wonderful to see a more human side of the band shine through here.

Chessie
Manifest
Plug Research
Release Date: February 4, 2008

I hate using the word "eclectic" to describe a band's music, but in the case of Chessie's fourth full-length, no other term will do. Armed with drums, guitars, bass, samples, synths, organs, and horns, Stephen Gardner and Ben Bailes jump from instrumental indie rock to leftfield noise, and on to lush, downtempo numbers. The static-filled interludes interspersed throughout the album might seem like filler tracks on some albums, but here they only add further depth.

WHY?
Alopecia
anticon.
Release Date March 11

We've written so many news announcements about WHY?'s Alopecia in the last six months it would seem wrong not to include the album somewhere in the Top 10. Fortunately, the quality on this, the follow-up to 2005's superb Elephant Eyelash, is worthy of making the cut, with Yoni Wolf and Co. delivering poetic raps over emotional melodies, beat-boxing, and feedback-heavy guitars. There's a certain quality to the music that fits the band members’ Midwestern roots–a cathartic release layered over a musical background as vast and melancholy as the farmland that covers most of that region.

Starting Teeth
I Won't Do Anything I Can Do
Creaked
Release Date: February 2008

Starting Teeth is the collaboration between Nathan Jonson (brother of Wagon Repair owner Mathew) and Childe Grangier, and the duo's debut release is a lesson on the many tricks a production team can do with electronic programming. Diversity is key here. At any given moment, the music could plunge from gentle bleeps and tweaks to dark, throbbing basslines and breakneck tempos. Cobblestone Jazz member Danuel Tate, Mental Grooves owner Oliver, and Larytta & Pinto make some memorable guest appearances.

Various Artists
Fabric 38 Mixed by M.A.N.D.Y.
Fabric
Release Date: February 12

What do the names Claude VonStroke, Booka Shade, Audion, and Lopazz have in common? They're all likely to end up on a DJ mix by M.A.N.D.Y., who has just finished the latest Fabric compilation. Besides the aforementioned usual suspects, the Get Physical bosses also pull in Brazilian hotshot Gui Boratto, Indonesian-American producer Astrid Suryanto, and many other banging tracks to match your dancefloor moods. M.A.N.D.Y. doesn't always maintain the kind of energy that sustains a 20-track-plus mix, but here they deliver from start to finish and make this one of the better Fabric releases to surface in some time.

Németh
Film
Thrill Jockey
Release Date: January 29

Even those with ADD and a tendency to over-caffeinate themselves will chill out while listening to this gorgeous album by Stefan Németh, the erstwhile member of Radian and Lokai and founder of Mosz Records. The six tracks here, which range in length from seven minutes to 30, were originally made as soundtracks to short films and experimental videos. Németh finally compiled them into a single album, which, while incredibly abstract, is beautifully paced and meticulously textured.

A Weather
Cove
Team Love
Release Date: March 4

When someone slipped me a 7" by this Portland-based band last spring, I thought I'd encountered the Holy Grail of indie-folk. Turns out, A Weather's debut full-length is even better than any of its previous singles. Frontman Aaron Gerber and singer/drummer Sarah Winchester share time on the vocals, trading harmonies and heartfelt lyrics that are touching without falling into the trap of sentimentality. Catchy drum beats, soft flutes, and the odd piano melody here and there add to the overall feel of the album, which is warming as it is melancholy.

Carl Craig
Carl Craig Sessions
!K7
Release Date: March 2008

If you ever wanted a primer on why Carl Craig is constantly hailed as a godfather of modern techno, this double-disc should provide an adequate answer. From his famous dancefloor banger "Throw" to his recent remix of the Junior Boys' "Like a Child" (which was nominated for a Grammy), Carl Craig Sessions pulls together the past, present, and future of this producer's 10-year-plus career of making music. Added bonuses are some previously unreleased remixes and edits, as well as one brand new track.

Atlas Sound
"Children's Hospital"
Download here

Bradford Cox has dedicated this track, which appeared this weekend on the Deerhunter blog, to the non-profit organization The Healing Project, as well as to a girl named Madeline, who, like Cox, suffers from a serious heart condition. Cox explains his connection to Madeline on his blog, and also sheds light on some of his own experiences in dealing with Marfan Syndrome. Pretty jarring lyrics about spending time in the ICU, but when paired with Atlas Sound’s music, it makes a very powerful statement.

Guilty Simpson
Ode to the Ghetto
Stones Throw
Release Date: March 25

It feels like Stones Throw appears in the Top 10 every other week, but when the SoCal indie hip-hop label keeps pushing one solid release after another into our mailbox, we can't help but include them. This week, we're loving the debut solo album from Detroit mover and shaker Guilty Simpson, a protégé of the late J Dilla and now, with this release, a rapper in his own right. The lyrics here seem electrically charged, racing from serious tones to outright hilarity and capturing the inner-city life in its many dimensions. Bag this latest gem to rise from the grit of the Motor City.

Pictured above: Pelican. Photo by Ryan Russell.

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