Creatures, A Bestiary of (Polydor, 1997; original release 1981, 1983)—
So, whaddya get when the regal mistress of the moody, mind-bending end of Brit post punk goes Hawaiian? The answer essentially is, a Siouxsie record with no guitar and more/wilder/weirder percussion. . . The Hawaiianisms (it was recorded there) are played for atmosphere rather than festive fun (surprise), so this is recommended for Banshees fans (if not for devotees of Don Ho) . . . Try 2, 3, 6, 10.
Antena, Camino del Sol (Numero, 2004; original release: Les Disques du Crepuscule, 1982)—
French combo that blended synthesizer post-punk with 60s tropical sophisto-pop à la Astrud Gilberto. . . The result is somehow lush and minimal, off-kilter and hypnotically fluid, all at the same time, utterly bewitching in its sun-dazed, elliptical elegance. . . Try 1, 2.
Archers of Loaf, Vee Vee (Merge, 2012)—
These guys quite likely the worst name ever for an otherwise first-rate group, which is maybe why they didn’t quite get their due when this originally came out in 1995. . . So here it is again, and it still sounds mighty fine to me—dueling angular guitars drill forward in a sound like (their contemporaries) Pavement with extra muscle, songs that echo prime Replacements in their humor, desperation and warmth, plus a nifty regional aftertaste, like stumbling out of the bar into a summer full of crickets. . . Try 1, 2, 4, 9.
Sonny and the Sunsets, Longtime Companion (Polyvinyl, 2012)—
I remember earlier stuff from them being more in a Beat Happening-esque primitive-strum-pop vein, but this has a more steady, reserved sound as it moves squarely into country territory, to excellent effect. . . It has an austere, almost timeless quality, illuminated by a feeling of mountain brightness… Try 1, 4.
Blasted Canyons, 2nd Place (Castle Face, 2012)—
This label can do no wrong in my book, and this just might be its best release yet. . . Blasted Canyon’s hit the sweet spot right where trippy garage-punk evolved into no-holds-barred Freakout psychedelia, and fill it with pop melody, sound-spasms, and everything but the kitchen sink, while always staying hooky and on-the-beat. . . Try 3, 5.
Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror (Mom + Pop, 2012)—
The hype machine is really cranking re: these guys, and this is slicker than the debut, but it also rocks harder and has better songs (though nothing as perfect as “Rill Rill”). . . Processed sheets of candy-colored guitar scree that burst in mid-air like fireworks, driven by rolling late 80s-hiphop-inflected beats and spectoresque bang-chime effects. . . Try 4, 6, 9