Animal Collective—Strawberry Jam Animal Collective has always been a band that enjoys either breathless enthusiasm or near-violent disdain. If you haven't liked AC in the past, we're not sure that this is the album that will convert you, even if it is their most pop-based recording yet. If you're a fan, run out and buy this one because at least four of the songs will blow your mind. Our favorite track "For Reverend Green" may not sound like the '70s Memphis soul legend, but we challenge you to listen to it without spontaneously growing an Al Green-sized smile.
Ricardo Villalobos—Fabric 36 Given superstar DJ Ricardo Villalobos's reluctance to release any official music other than what you might here at his marathon DJ sets, his mix for the famed Fabric series comes remarkably close to a conventional album. Every one of these intensely minimal tracks is produced by Villalobos and mixed together so seamlessly that it's often difficult to hear where one track ends and another begins. With little deviation from his trademark 128 bpm, you would expect to get bored pretty fast. But once again Villalobos proves that subtle variation can be more engaging than huge dynamic shifts.
Magik Markers—Boss The duo of Elisa Ambrogio (guitar/vocals) and Pete Nolan (drums/piano) returns with a much more tightly wound album than we are used to from this normally improvisation-inclined group. If you've noticed that the sound comes very close to Sonic Youth you are particularly astute—Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo produced this album and even guests on a few tracks. We're mesmerized by the sexed-up vocals and how they manage to sound so rocking and yet so menacing at the same time. We haven't been scared by an album like this in a while. We kind of like it.
The duo of Elisa Ambrogio (guitar/vocals) and Pete Nolan (drums/piano) returns with a much more tightly wound album than we are used to...