1. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll
Okay, we’re pretty much obsessed with this record over at the festival office. Splendid garage rock that is as chaotic as it is melodic. Instantly classic anthems with a bitter, Brit bite.
2. She Wants Revenge, She Wants Revenge
Joy Division with a drum machine… but it’s not as obnoxious as it sounds. Dirty, 2 a.m. love ballads with a punk/disco kick.
3. Various Artists, Different Strokes By Different Folks
As far tribute albums go, this Sly Stone salute doesn’t quite reach Gram Parsons or Carpenters heights, but it’s still a talent-laden mash-up of choices both obvious (Maroon 5 does “Everyday People”) and sublime (Moby remixing “Love City”). But throw in Big Boi, John Legend, and Cee-Lo, and you have a dance party album perfect for the upcoming summer.
4. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
Scottish somber-pop masters cover delightfully depressing ground yet again. And, shockingly, it still hasn’t grown old.
5. Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers
The princess of chill-out trip-hop goes further down the Americana rabbit hole with some help from M. Ward and Jim O’Rourke.
– “The W.A.N.D.” by the Flaming Lips
(They shed the Sixties pop and move on to Seventies rock… but it’s still every bit as psychedelic and glorious.)
– “Yes We Can Can” by Allen Toussaint
(It may have gotten forced treatment at the Grammys, but this ode to New Orleans from the soul giant, is a stompin’ and catchy tune.)