• Traxman, 'The Mind of Traxman' (Planet Mu)

    "Footwork" is prime proof of a recurring truth in dance music: While the various electronic vanguards strive self-consciously to break all sound barriers, it’s the functional styles that produce the real breakthroughs. This Chicago genre's prosaic name points to its purpose-built specificity: bare-bones beats tailored for the exponents of a unique local dance style, designed to spur them on to new feats of gravity-defying grace.Its origins lie in a mutant offshoot of Chicago house known as "juke," but footwork has more in common with the booty-bass styles you find all across urban America, from Jersey club music to L.A. jerk. It sounds much more like an extension of electro's jagged-yet-elastic drum-machine beats than house’s four-to-the-floor pump-and-pound.

  • my-bloody-valentine.jpg

    My Bloody Valentine: The Opposite of Rock'N'Roll

    My Bloody Valentine made a lot of noise in America in 1992. Figuratively -- their album Loveless had become a critical sensation -- and literally -- with a spring tour of the U.S. that's been rated as the second loudest in history. "Here in L.A., it's a badge of honor to have been at their show at the Roxy," says Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups, just one of countless bands influenced by MBV's neo-psychedelic bliss-blast. "The legend goes, it was so loud people's shorts were flapping about from the sound waves.

  • Animal Collective, 'Feels' (Fat Cat)

    Using song titles like "Daffy Duck" and cover art that features kids in a farmyard, Animal Collective are still working with children and animals. But the New York group's vision isn't a rose-tinted regression to a lost idyll. It's more like their music is a child -- angelic one moment, monstrous the next. Dulcet passages give way to tantrums of flailing drums and shrieks. Kids see the world as a magical place populated with spooks as much as marvels. And on Feels, their seventh album, Animal Collective give that sinister side a subliminal undertow. Although the lyrics suggest it's a love song, "Flesh Canoe" is actually a weirdly creepy thing -- a grumbling mass of guitar drones that seems to shed lumps of itself along the way.

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