• Richard Buckner, 'Our Blood' (Merge)

    Richard Buckner, 'Our Blood' (Merge)

    "I guess I'm the onethey warned you about," Richard Buckner acknowledges on Our Blood, summing up in one long-suffering moan his entire discography of dangerous romance. Brooding and oblique, Buckner's first album in five years again seeks its pleasures inthe shadows beside the bar, framed by desolate electronics far removed from the singer-songwriter's '90s alt-country roots. With pedal steel byBuddy Cage (Dylan'sBlood on the Tracks),ominous percussion by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, and Buckner's usual subtle craftsmanship, he creates wasted-night rhapsodies that demand you lean in close -- however warily.

  • Country Mice, 'Twister' (Wao Wao)

    Country Mice, 'Twister' (Wao Wao)

    Brooklyn four-piece Country Mice don't look to reinvent 2011's Americana-tinged indie-rock formula on their terse debut album. But they arrive at their own conclusions: fantastic opener "Ghost" attempts an exorcism through guitar wails and cymbal crashes, while "Clover" takes a Jack White riff and drags it through the dirt. On "Morning Son" and "Close Behind," guitarists Jason Rueger and Ben Bullington conjure dust bowls over sweet melodies as bassist Mike Feldman and drummer Kurt Kuehn keep the pace. This is country living that knows how to move.

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