Matthew Perpetua

  • Primal Scream, 'Beautiful Future' (WEA International)

    After 20 years of alternating between thrilling electronic experimentation and random Rolling Stones pastiches, Primal Scream take a pleasingly lightweight turn on their ninth album, embracing a breezy, effervescent '80s pop aesthetic (with production help from Bloc Party soundscaper Paul Epworth and Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John). Though singer Bobby Gillespie's lyrics are still rife with anti-establishment paranoia, songs such as "The Glory of Love" and the title track are colorful, catchy, and informed by a cautious optimism born of hard-earned perspective and a surprising maturity. BUY: Amazon

  • School of Seven Bells, 'Alpinisms' (Ghostly International)

    Alpinisms' sweeping, ethereal pop owes a stylistic debt to My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins, but the debut album by former Secret Machines guitarist Ben Curtis' new project reveals a range of influences and a sophisticated approach to arrangement that sets the trio well apart from less imaginative latter-day shoegazers. Notably, identical-twin vocalists Claudia and Alejandra Deheza borrow liberally from the folk tradition, coating Appalachian melodies with chilly electronic textures on "Iamundernodisguise," and lend pristine '60s-style harmonies to "Connjur," a songthat simultaneously evokes Neu!, U2, and Kate Bush. BUY: iTunes Amazon

  • Electric Six, 'Flashy' (Metropolis)

    Electric Six's fifth album may begin with "Gay Bar Part Two," but the sardonic sextet are only parodying casual fans' desire for a sequel to their flukey 2003 debut hit, Fire. Flashy expands on the themes of the group's more recent efforts, delving into the excesses and vacuous nihilism of a post-TMZ America. Much of the record satirizes plastic surgery and oversexed macho men, but despite the ironic humor, there's a compassion in the music that's unexpected coming from a band best known for a Taco Bell–referencing novelty hit. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Deerhunter, 'Microcastle' (Kranky)

    Deerhunter's name implies aggression and brutality, but even at their loudest, the Atlanta band's music possesses a bewildered fragility that suggests they identify more closely with the innocent creature caught in the crosshairs. Lanky, waifish leaderBradford Cox often seems passive and exposed within his own songs, as if he could be blown away by the next wave of sound, whether it's a blaring drone or a gentle hum. There's an intense physical sensation in all of Deerhunter's material, a constant feeling that outside forces are acting upon the singer, and by extension, the listener as well. Since Deerhunter released their breakthrough album Cryptograms early last year, Cox has recorded enough music under the alias Atlas Sound to merit his own retrospective box set.

  • Douglas Armour, 'The Light of a Golden Day, the Arms of the Night' (The Social Registry)

    The debut album from this versatile Los Angeles singer/ songwriter is split into two distinct sides: The first half skews in favor of melancholic post–Postal Service synth pop, and the other focuses on a slightly more ambient version of the Shins' folk pop. Armour's gift for understated, romantic melodies shines brightest on the dancey electronic numbers ("Fall Apart Again," "Towards the Light"), but when he strays from brisk tempos and bass grooves, his songs can become as limply mawkish as a Lenny Kravitz ballad. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Adem, 'Takes' (Domino)

    This Turkish-English folksinger's album of cover versions is an exceptionally well-curated disc with intriguing selections penned by Low, Yo La Tengo, and Tortoise. But despite his good taste, Adem's competent yet generally uninspired acoustic arrangements make him sound like a coolly ambitious street busker. In many cases, his unremarkable voice is an insurmountable stumbling block -- covers of distinctive songs by Björk, PJ Harvey, and Smashing Pumpkins come off as watered-down and generic. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Takka Takka, 'Migration' (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)

    While Takka Takka's debut often sounded like Lou Reed in cuddly, McSweeney's-reading drag, their sophomore effort develops an atmospheric, rhythmically sophisticated sound that recalls the late-'70s work of Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. Crisp guitar melodies weave a delicate latticework with the taut, understated polyrhythms of drummer Conrad Doucette. And though some tracks recede into the background too easily, upbeat numbers such as "Everybody Say" and "Homebreaker" have an exceptional charm. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Lykke Li, 'Little Bit EP' (LL)

    Lykke Li's timbre and vocal phrasing may bear a striking resemblance to fellow Swedish pop singer Robyn, but her music is far more delicate. Rather than borrow from Europop or modern R&B, the stark, minimalist tunes on Li's debut EP (produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John) are built upon the clack and clang of acoustic percussion and little else, aside from occasional bits of guitar or saxophone. The songs sound exceptionally intimate, to the point where it's easy to feel voyeuristic when listening on the title cut to her unguarded declaration of love. BUY: Amazon

  • Tapes 'n Tapes, 'Walk It Off' (XL)

    In the same way that Lily Allen's career is inextricably tied to her MySpace page, and OK Go's profile was boosted by YouTube, Minneapolis quartet Tapes 'n Tapes owe much of their success to MP3 blog aggregators Elbo.ws and the Hype Machine, sites that documented their buzz in real time by giving greater exposure to the online music community's rapidly expanding long tail. Inevitably, the group were tagged with the semiderisive "blog band" label, and became the face of indie-rock populism: overhyped, unchallenging, and constantly, inexplicably compared to indie legends like Pavement and the Pixies. The band have clearly set out to change that impression. The tunes on their second album are tighter, the lyrics smarter, and the performances far more dynamic and aggressive, thanks in large part to the studio work of Flaming Lips/Sleater-Kinney producer Dave Fridmann.

  • Clinic, 'Do It!' (Domino)

    After debuting with two alluringly cryptic art-punk records in the early 2000s, Clinic fell into a creative rut, experimenting with new textures but basically rewriting the same tunes. The Liverpudlian quartet's fifth album still cannibalizes their back catalog, but they give their stock song forms -- frantic punk rave-up, dreamy dub ballad, sinister groover -- an extreme psychedelic makeover, embracing a lovey-dovey lyrical sentiment that's incongruous with the manic paranoia of Ade Blackburn's slurred vocals. The band play up the tension, tossing blistering riffs into mellow ballads and lacing eerie stomps with folk textures; the result is some of the loosest, most fascinating music of their career. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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