After a half decade in near-completion, Guilty Guilty emerges resilient from cryo-stasis. Your local auto repair shop salivates at the impending damage that dude-rock bombardments “All the Lights,” “Cash for Gold,” and “Let’s Do This Again” will cause via steering-wheel drumming. You’ll still be singing along in the waiting room.

"Cash for Gold"

With Codeine and Come hitting the reunion circuit, Chris Brokaw proves his present is as potent as his past. Gambler’s Ecstasy samples styles from his prolific solo output—acoustic strummers (“Crooked”), amped-up character studies (“Danny Borracho”), introspective meditations (“Anacordia”), and dark-hued rockers (“The Appetites”)—acting as both gateway and summit.


Ranging from woozy cow-punk to sweat-drenched mosh-fuel, introspective odes to cathartic culminations, Dripping never loses its essential character. Each song sticks in the gullet, causing pummeling drum fills, surprisingly delicate finger-picked leads, Rick Maguire’s frighteningly feral howls, and the occasional Silkworm-echoing solo to linger long after the meal is over.

"Prom Song"

Having issued the double-disc Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn earlier in 2012, Dunn survived its titular order to deliver a superior supplement. It’s the opposite of a triumphant exhale; the impeccable drones of “Meadowfuck” and “The Milksop” hover over past, present, and future loss with no release.

"The Milksop"

The deep-space expeditions into arpeggiated drone of Blanck Mass’s self-titled debut proved Benjamin John Power’s mettle away from Fuck Buttons, but this EP is more competition to than diversion from his day job. With propulsive beats and melodies to spare, both “White Mass” and “Polymorph” are essential long-form electronic cuts.


“Everything will change while you’re asleep” explains Nootropics’ lead cipher “Brains,” as if the textural sea change from reverb-drenched guitars to evocative synthesizers weren’t indication enough. The division between conscious and unconscious becomes blurred, with Jana Hunter’s steely gaze into the void turning fiery on “Nova Anthem.” Wake up? Never.


The seventeen minutes of Sports are a clown-car of hooks, smarts, and snark, with quotable lines piling out to comic effect. Each song is a highlight, but the pairing of lust and disgust on “Basketball,” the flaming guitar finale of “Suck Buddies,” and the heart of “Curling” deserve gold stars.


Tramp hinges on a paradox: Sharon Van Etten’s lyrics and arrangements glimmer with newfound confidence, but her old-soul voice offers experience beyond her years. Has she always been the caretaker of this heartbreak? The blend of romance and regret on “Give Out,” “In Line,” and “I’m Wrong” provides ample evidence.

"Give Out"

How cruel to drop their new record unannounced, giving unsuspecting citizens no chance to escape the blast radius. Once the dust settles, marvel at its balanced construction: two epics, one dark and brutally heavy (“Mladic”), one light and redemptive (“We Drift Like Worried Fire”), each partnered with an opaque drone.


The myriad impulses of these twitchy Boston post-punks coalesce seamlessly on the dazzling Ronson. Having mastered the live-wire jitters of “Dance Punk Revival School for Kids,” the mix-tape hooks of “Panera,” the riff assembly line of “Jesse’s Fashion Show,” and the spirited interplay of “Ruffleball,” expect polka and dubstep next.

"Jesse's Fashion Show"

“A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar”? Disregard any notion of narrative hubris. Good Kid M.A.A.D.City drops jaws with detail-laden chronicles, providing perspective on his past while securing his future. Lamar fights the urge to chew scenery (excluding Oscar clip “Backseat Freestyle”), proffering poise on “Money Trees” and “Swimming Pools (Drank).”

"Money Trees"

There’s truth to that title. Errors exist between realms—post-rock and electronic, instrumental and vocal, live and Memorex—embracing all but belonging to none. Their alchemy defies explication; there’s no deciphering Steev Livingstone’s wordless vocals, no exit from dream-pop comas like “Blank Media,” no defeat of the monumental “Magna Encarta.”

"Magna Encarta"