Riffing: High-minded, ultra-serious third LP from Russian-Wisconsinite goth Nikia Danilova. Ponderous for long stretches, it works best when a synthpop beat is allowed, as on the fun "Seekir."
Reference points: Baroque chanteuse pop — lots of disaffected oversinging — bordering on New Age, occasionally easy to mistake for Enya, or something. The emotional model, though, is dystopian industrial dread fused with that classical stuff the kids like so much.
If you like: Nico, Cold Cave, Glasser, Cocteau Twins at their bleakest.
Riffing: Six-song shoegaze sludge marathon by blog hype, consistently as strong and riot grrrl cantankerous as preview "Rabid Love" suggested; catchy melodies, sardonic words, addictive fuzz.
Reference points: Unmistakably Californian noise pop dosed with early '90s slackerdom, but free of the Spector girl-group persuasions common to so many female rockers of late.
If you like: Best Coast, No Joy, early Bangles, L7, a bit o' Buzzcocks
Riffing: Collects the 12" singles Radiohead issued throughout the year of remixed King of Limbs songs. Knob-twiddlers include Caribou, Four Tet, and Jamie xx; results vary wildly and aren't really suited to LP format.
Reference points: These distortions and distillations will mostly make you long for the (already quite danceable) Limbs. There are bright spots, such as SBTRKT's immersive spin on "Lotus Flower," but also too many irritating dubstep variants on "Bloom."
If you like: Dozing to your fave bands.
Riffing: As if Kurt Vile's own prattle weren't enough, his former bandmates continue the Tom Pettyfication of indie rock with more deathly boring guitar noodling and "emotion."
Reference points: Something college students and their parents might've bonded over in 1982, maybe Dire Straits with an ambient fixation. The singing is disaffected, the songs dross (sample titles: "Your Love Is Calling My Name," "It's Your Destiny").
If you like: Music piped in at Home Depot.
Riffing: Over-the-top double album from electro-dreamer Anthony Gonzalez fits neatly into the pervasive '80s dance revival with an injection of prog, but at 73 minutes? Please.
Reference points: The impossibly hip sax-addled "Midnight City" will light up cold winter nights, but melodramatic pile-ons like "New Map" are more typical, actually calling to mind Animal Collective with a Bananarama backdrop.
If you like: Destroyer's Kaputt (which is weirder — and better); pretending you can go clubbing in OMD's heyday.
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