Von Spar S/TTomlab
Kraut-rock is by nature weird as all hell. But when a band like Von Spar enters your eardrums, things go from weird to primitively shocking. The band’s heavy, repetitive tribal drumming, demonic howling, and melodic noise-collisions will make you remember why those little brats in Lord of the Flies went apeshit. This is the best release from Tomlab yet.
Amiina Kurr Ever/!K7
It’s no surprise that this quasi-string quartet aided fellow Icelandic tear-jerkers Sigur Rós on its past two albums. These four young ladies employ everything from wine glasses and saws to glockenspiels and harpsichords to make cinematic, sublime lullabies that rival even the most masterful of their Scandinavian friends’ compositions. Church is in session.
Various5 Years Get PhysicalGet Physical
A quick listen to Get Physical’s five-year anniversary rarities and remixes compilation exhibits how much of a dance powerhouse this Berlin-based label has become. Although the remix disc brings in some big names (Herbert, Hot Chip, Moby) and bizarre reworks (a string version of Booka Shade’s “Nightfalls”), it is the second disc of new, exclusive material that demonstrates the label’s prowess–straight dancefloor heat.
Tied + Tickled TrioAelita Morr Music
Aelita is no usual Morr suspect. Although these five musicians summon the melancholic, IDM moments the label is known for, Tied + Tickled Trio makes mallet-heavy instrumentation that could easily score a really, really scary indie-horror flick. Filled to the brim with xylophone leads, strings, and glitchy effects, Aelita may have listeners a little spooked (and by a little, we mean a lot).
Matthew Dear Asa Breed Ghostly
Matthew Dear is unstoppable. As if dominating the minimal scene under his Audion moniker weren’t enough, he has also produced an exceedingly refreshing take on the intersection of pop electronica and techno. Asa Breed retains the usual flavor of jackin’ pogo beats and monotone, guttural vocals, while also adding a bit of the unusual (acoustic guitars, poppy melodies).
Au Revoir SimoneThe Bird of MusicOur Secret Record Company
Pastoral pop has a new face–Au Revoir Simone. These three Brooklyn ladies create backwoods synth pop that could melt even the hardest metalhead’s heart. This trio’s blend of “triple keyboard action” and vocal harmonies has got us in full on “let’s go camping and listen to this record on repeat mode.
Robin Guthrie & Harold BuddBefore the Day BreaksDarla
These two Eno and Cocteau Twins collaborators have broken ambient conventions yet again with a dual-album escapade. Featuring Guthrie’s patent chorus-effected guitar sounds and Budd’s minimalist piano scores, Before the Day Breaks is an emotional journey beyond any recent achievement. Think romance, hate, and mourning all rolled into one disc of audio.
Robin Guthrie & Harold BuddAfter the Night FallsDarla
Typically, a two-disc release serves as one entry in our beloved top ten, but After the Night Falls is so beautiful and lush, we had to give the second disc a separate entry. Featuring windy sound effects, lightly treated textures, and subtle percussion, the second part of this massive achievement will make any child of the ’80s grab a Cocteau twins record and give it a really big embrace.
Thomas FehlmannHonig PumpeKompakt
Thomas Fehlmann is an emo badass (he’s so emo, he’s already released an EP entitled The Emo EP). All Semantics aside, Honig Pumpe is more of the mellow, ambient techno that’s got this office feeling like it’s 5 a.m. all day. Plus homeboy’s now a member of The Orb! Yes!
History InvadesIn Vision Vanish InvisiblePish Posh of North America/Lujo
Though this young band has some of the longest song titles ever, they’ve mastered an awesome amalgamation of dancey punk, bass-heavy glitch, and noise-house. While a ton of bands have explored math-rock, electro, punk crossover terrain in their own way, History Invades does it right. Expect rad things from these guys.