• Carl Craig, 'Carl Craig Sessions' (!K7)

    In Carl Craig's nearly 20-year career turning out remixes for LCD Soundsystem, Deee-Lite, Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode, and others, he's logged almost as many clients as aliases (69, BFC, Innerzone Orchestra, Psyche, Tres Demented, and Paperclip People, to name a few). The schizo m.o.'s a sure sign that his techno work -- which draws from disco, electro, drum'n'bass, ambient, garage, and more -- is too expansive to fit under one roof. This two-disc set is an essential overview, from his raw early output as protégée of Detroit pioneer Derrick May to his microhouse-tinged remix of Junior Boys' "Like a Child" (which earned a recent Grammy nod). BUY: Amazon

  • The Sword, 'Gods of the Earth' (Kemado)

    This Austin, Texas band's riffs are so heavy they should be weighed periodically on truck scales, so that they don't violate any interstate cartage laws when the Sword goes on tour. How scary/ridiculous the lyrics are is a matter of personal taste (or lack thereof), but it'd help if the production were more Scandinavian and less like, well, the Rocket from the Crypt rip-off band that singer/guitarist J.D. Cronise was in before he devoted his life to Paranoid. It's only their second album, so maybe their ears just aren't ruined enough yet. Now Hear This: "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians" DOWNLOAD MP3 Now Watch This: "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians"BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Einstürzende Neubauten, 'Alles Wieder Offen' (Potomak)

    The latest album from these German industrial pioneers (whose name means Collapsing New Buildings) suggests that their combustive early-'80s music didn't demolish rock's edifice as an end in itself, but rather as an attempt to clear the way for ever more sublime architectonics. The jackhammers and contact-miked abdominal blows are gone, but Neubauten's finely attuned sense of sonic drama remains (as on the obstinate tribal throb of "Weil Weil Weil"). A few tracks even sound like indie rock ("Let's Do It a Dada"), albeit the kind that the Huns listened to while storming the Caucasus. Now Hear This:Einstürzende Neubauten - "Weil Weil Weil" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Biffy Clyro, 'Puzzle' (Roadrunner)

    Though they formed in the late '90s, this Glaswegian postgrunge band finally became Britain's next big thing when Puzzle, their fourth LP, debuted at No. 2 on the U.K. album charts in June. It's easy to see why: The trio has an effortless, if colorless, knack for penning solid, accessible guitar anthems à la Foo Fighters. They also throw in the occasional quirky detail (a nod to Barry Manilow in the "Looks like we made it" chorus of "A Whole Child Ago"; a bombastic, Queen-like harmony break in "Who's Got a Match"). But those little embellishments aren't enough to keep the album from feeling like a series of mild variations on an extremely tired theme. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Pinback, 'Autumn of the Seraphs' (Touch and Go)

    Rob Crow and Zach Smith are perfectionists, and each Pinback album results from years of obsessive labor in their San Diego home studio. Their previous three albums were marvels of sublime prog pop, and there's more of the same here, with the stately piano and rarified vocal harmonies of "How We Breathe." But for a band defined by its hermetic, hypnotic rhythms, the replacement of longtime drummer Tom Zinser (by the Black Heart Procession's Mario Rubalcaba and No Knife's Chris Prescott) results in too many perfectly good songs that never quite approach greatness. Now Hear This: Pinback - "From Nothing to Nowhere" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Modeselektor, 'Happy Birthday!' (Bpitch Control)

    Taking their name from a knob on the vintage Roland RE-201 tape-echo machine, the Berlin DJ/production duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary line up a series of ace cameos on their wildly eclectic second album of original material. Thom Yorke beams in ghostly vocals on "The White Flash," French rap geeks TTC are sliced and diced on the funky "2000007," IDM malcontent Otto Von Schirach scares the kids on "Hyper Hyper," and Maxïmo Park get processed on the bonus track "I Can't Sleep (Without Music)." Now Hear This: Modeselektor - "Edgar" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Tegan and Sara, 'The Con' (Vapor/ Sire)

    The Quin twins' new-wave pop hooks are stronger than ever on their fifth (fourth in the U.S.) album, as the Calgary duo relocates to Portland to work with Death Cab for Cutie producer Chris Walla and the formidable rhythm section of Death Cab drummer Jason McGerr and bassists Hunter Burgan (AFI) and Matt Sharp (the Rentals). The album peaks with the bouncy, piano-driven "Back in Your Head" and the Cars-esque "Hop a Plane," while the title track's a perfect summer anthem -- three and a half minutes of bright, shiny bliss. Now Hear This: Tegan and Sara - "Back in Your Head" DOWNLOAD MP3 Now Watch This:Tegan and Sara performing in the Spin offices! BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Ulrich Schnauss, 'Goodbye' (Domino)

    Judging from his album titles, Ulrich Schnauss always seems to be leaving or long gone. The sounds matched the sentiment on the Berliner's first two releases, 2001's Far Away Trains Passing By and 2003's A Strangely Isolated Place -- gracefully melancholic electronica with too much soul to be relegated to sushi-restaurant background music. Goodbye is a bittersweet farewell to Berlin after Schnauss' return to his hometown on the Baltic coast, and the wafting synths evoke fog rolling in from the sea on an overcast autumn afternoon. Now Hear This: Ulrich Schnauss - "Medusa" STREAMING MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Crowded House, 'Time on Earth' (ATO)

    Midway through the sessions for a solo album, Neil Finn rang up some old mates. And with original Crowded House bassist Nick Seymour, late-era guitarist Mark Hart, and former Beck drummer Matt Sherrod (replacing Paul Hester, who committed suicide in 2005), Finn delivers the modest, delicately crafted record that 1993's Together Alone -- the band's enervated, far-flung swan song -- should have been. Though lacking the immediacy of hits like "Don't Dream It's Over," or "Something so Strong," Time on Earth is an assured, soothing collection of sweet-tempered pop tunes ("Even a Child"), and ballads ("Pour Le Monde"). Now Hear This: Crowded House - "Don't Stop Now" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Pelican, 'City of Echoes' (Hydra Head)

    When I first saw Pelican live in their hometown of Chicago a few years back, they sounded, well, young: The quartet's instrumentals guilelessly ventured from futuristic neo-metal à la Voivod to ominous, Neurosis-like art-doom to the high-prog constructions of King Crimson. Why? Because they could. The band's maturation has been a matter of winnowing -- finding the styles they do best, honing them rigorously, and chucking everything else. That process is complete on their third album, with the title track and the strongly melodic "Bliss in Concrete" achieving in five- or six-minute mini epics what used to take the band twice the time and effort. Now Hear This: Pelican - "Far From Fields" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

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