Nadja lays waste to Jesu’s metallic shoegaze and Codeine’s distorted slow-core during this death march to a beckoning apocalypse. Each mammoth track begins with portentous calm, but the path to certain doom is blindingly apparent. Radiance of Shadows only needs its billowing guitars, not Oppenheimer quotes, to set the atmosphere.



The newly pluralized Timonys combine the energy of Ex Hex with the layered prog of The Magic City. With her Medications in tow, Mary performs as a voyeuristic pianist in “Window,” a philosophical organist in “Each Day,” and her usual guitar-bending self in “New Song.” Here’s to the royal we.



Such relentless austerity is a strange recipient of hype, but Boxer’s songwriting forges strong gravity. Accompanied by detailed arrangements, Matt Berninger’s rich baritone dwells in the narrow passageways between bedroom and city, office and state, stasis and paralysis. Finding his way out of this discontent must wait for the follow-up.



Wire’s re-re-reformation delights in revisionist history, erasing the gap between 154 and The Ideal Copy while still pushing forward. “23 Years Too Late” forges a needed détente between Graham Lewis’s avant-garde structures and Colin Newman’s pop wordplay and “No Warning Given” adds a propulsive backbeat to their mid-1980s new wave.



Cryptograms seems downright woozy, alternating between swirling instrumentals and energetic kraut-pop before easing into its glorious slacker rock third act. Yet these segments do converse: “Spring Hall Convert” forms from the blur of “Red Ink” to achieve its rousing jaunt, the nervous title track blossoms into the ghostly finale “Heatherwood.”



Sky Blue Sky may very well mark Wilco’s grasp for dad-rock ubiquity and retreat from avant-garde aspirations, but those aspects never deterred me from Jeff Tweedy’s comforting nonchalance or Nels Cline’s reserved lead guitar work. This stripped-down aesthetic fits these honest confessionals better than their prior postmodern fragmentation ever could.



Tempting its titular fate by edging ever closer to IDM, Port-Royal compels most when their layered swells fade into fuzzed-out drones. “Anya: Sehnsucht” couples Moog sighs with fluttering beats, the aptly titled “Deca-Dance” gives way to somber vocals, and “Putin Vs. Valery” accelerates its distorted pulse to the breaking point.



With no shortage of Jesu releases in 2007, this import LP rose above the mammoth Conqueror on the strength of its two epic tracks. The punishing riffs of Jesu and the wistful crunch of Conqueror cede to an elongated version of Silver’s graceful shoegaze, providing ample rumination on Broadrick’s ruination.



The brass fanfare “Amreik” announces that Eluvium’s ambient classical is now considerably more classical, drawing unjustified fears of Windham Hill’s New Age. But fans of guitar washes and drone symphonies only need “Indoor Swimming at the Space Station” as reassurance that the mesmerizing Talk Amongst the Trees still drifts underneath.



Think not of Prints’ homonym, but rather Kenseth Thibideau’s previous engagement as a post-pop cult leader in Howard Hello. “Easy Magic” makes surprising bliss from whispers asking “Is it magic?” and cascading scat vocals, while the swirling electro-pop of “End” and the buoyant “Too Much Water” help seal the deal.



This concept album for singer Rolf Klausener’s mother blushes with detail—both instrumental and biographical. Glory Hope Mountain’s folk comes alive with the inclusion of cross-continental percussion and joyous background vocals, yet the mellifluous charms of “Hold Your Breath,” “Glory,” and “Oh Napoleon” would undoubtedly persevere in stripped-down acoustic versions.



Which is the bigger source of shock: the reunion of Mascis and Barlow or the genuinely solid record it generated? J may look like a woodshop teacher, but “Almost Ready,” “Crumble,” and “It’s Me” shred like they’re back on SST. And Lou’s songs (not bass, unfortunately) almost steal the show.



Nebraska and Paris aren’t frequent bedfellows, but The Berg Sans Nipple do well with their curious geography and awful name. Brimming with sprightly percussion but avoiding the dreaded drum circle, Along the Quai deftly navigates between rhythmically oriented post-rock and the eccentric pop of “Of the Sung” and “Mystic Song.”



Shannon Wright’s artistic progression has been fascinating, but never this inviting. With the claustrophobic atmosphere of Dyed in the Wool and the aggressive dramatics of Over the Sun behind her, Wright starts anew yet retains her complexity with straight-ahead rocker “St. Pete” and the graceful echoes of “In the Morning.”



Starting the slyly eponymous Let’s Stay Friends with the meta-analysis of “Pots & Pans” before launching into the throttling “The Equestrian,” Les Savy Fav enact what they announce: “This band’s a beating heart and it’s nowhere near its end.” Let’s Stay Friends precludes any future stay in the dollar bin.



Of Others is a quantum leap forward for Mt. St. Helens, a captivating, atmospheric album forged by dueling guitars and haunting melodies. The throttling post-punk of “Want Out” and “City Of…” certainly impresses, but the dynamic range of smoldering mid-tempo excursions “The Drink” and “Interruption” is the album’s secret weapon.



Battles warp math-rock’s reliance upon instrumental expertise and technical precision by treating their vocals with the same ingenuity as their guitars and keyboards. It’s a love/hate proposition, but the giddy melodies of “Atlas,” “Tonto,” and “Rainbow” make a strong case for the former. The true feat? Replicating this set live.



Though initially seeming minimal, Stars of Lid’s drone/ambient/classical blossoms with repeated listens. The heartbreaking crests of “Tippy’s Demise” broke through on a commute home, “The Evil That Never Arrived” eased a trans-continental flight, and “Articulate Silences Part 2” required a breather before flipping the first of three slabs of vinyl.



Having retired Silkworm with last year’s Chokes! EP, Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett return with a new rhythm section and a resilient, affecting album. The changes suit each well: Midgett’s songs appropriate New Order’s humanism sans Bernard Summer’s lyrical heavy-handedness and Cohen’s dry humor is softened by the cathartic “Dogtag.”



Striking the rough edges from Such Triumph, The Narrator proceed with energy intact. All That to the Wall grapples with this newfound maturity—“SurfJew,” “Start Parking,” and “Chocolate Windchimes” ache to reconcile old expectations and new identities—but never lets indifference develop. Mid-twenties ennui, meet your diagnosis and your cure.