Goldfrapp -We Are Glitter (Mute)
Alison Goldfrapp set the bar for dance music this year with her massively acclaimed Supernature. Now, the bar has risen tenfold with this insane remix album featuring dense reinterpretations of the duo's hits, from everyone from Múm to Carl Craig to The Flaming Lips taking the boards. This may be the hottest remix album of the year.
The Residents - The River of Crime: Episodes 1-5 (Cordless)
Since the late '70s, this Bay Area collective of multimedia outcasts has been churning out avant-garde soundscapes worthy of ridiculous amounts of praise. Between the quartet's mystical aesthetic and surreal detective story narratives, The River of Crime is this group of audio/visual artists at the peak of their game.
Aluminum - S/T (XL)
Whether or not you have profound love or hate for The White Stripes, you gotta love Aluminum. Established by XL Recordings founder Richard Russell and English composer Joby Talbnot, Aluminum is an avant-classical replication of the music of Jack White. Somehow, these dudes have managed to capture the analog essence of White's songs, all while retaining the sound of conventional orchestral magic.
Wet Confetti - Laughing Gasping (Rice Bird)
For a while, it seemed as though synth-pop had escaped indie rock, as more and more kids jumped on the post-punk/disco wagon. Not Wet Confetti, though. This three-piece comes through with some Sonic Youth-meets-The Cars consistency. Kim Gordon is psyched.
Various - Hip Hop Forever III: Compiled & Mixed By DJ Jazzy Jeff (BBE)
Remember when your bros used to make you sick mixtapes that would get you charged to go skate or write on shit? Well if you don't, DJ Jazzy Jeff has mixed and complied the experience for you with minimally cut-up classics from the likes of The Pharcyde, Big L, and Black Moon. God bless the '90s.
The Postmarks - Nelab (Unfiltered)
If Broadcast were to strip themselves down to really clean guitars and acoustic drums, they'd tour with the Postmarks. This cute, melancholic trio creates post-indie rock with intuitive ease. Break up with your boyfriends just so you can listen to this record on full blast.
Conjoint - A Few Empty Chairs (Buro)
Conjoint is no new avant-garde jazz enterprise. The collective has been making music for over a decade and A Few Empty Chairs is the atmospheric culmination of putting in some hard work. Featuring veterans like Karl Berger and Jamie Hodge, this long-player was built to amaze.
Hidden Cameras - Awoo (Arts & Crafts)
Hallelujah! Or should we say, holy fuck! If there's anything to know about Toronto's premier homosexual folk-pop chorale, it's that either phrase can apply. Joel Gibb and his troupe, outfitted with guitars, violins, glockenspiel, drum machines, church bells, and organ, make an orchestral racket that's formulaic while completely subverting formula.
Max Richter - Songs From Before (Fat Cat)
As an acclaimed contemporary composer, Max Richter has shown an impressive consistency in the quality of his work and Songs From Before is a fitting next chapter in his career. Building off the format of Notebooks (his last), Songs From Before pairs Richter's warm piano compositions with readings of text written by novelist Haruki Murakami. And with its string section and carefully employed radio hiss, Songs From Before is a deeply moving, near-sacred work.
Thunderball - Cinesope (ESL)
DC's Thunderball rolls out their third offering, harvesting from spy cinema, Vegas, Brazil, funk, and dub, while treating listeners to collabos with Afrika Bambaataa and See-I's Roots and Zeebo. Loads of beats and samples will be comfy to some and clichéd to others. Either way, this is fine fodder for chic hotel bars or the jetsetter's lounge.