Holopaw (Sub Pop)
In a tense and panicked mood last week, this album, with its powerful calming effects, saved me from giving myself an ulcer. Sweet and melodic, these Floridians create the perfect mood music that reminds me of something I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps the confusion can be explained by the overall alt.country feel tinged with subtly weird '70s synth sounds. Or maybe it's the album art that, I don't know, just makes me think of Care Bears.
Kinski (Sub Pop)
Kinski is okay; they sound a little like Sonic Youth. But the lack of lyrics makes this album mostly sound like the soundtrack to a video where the biggest extreme sport badass is totally wailing on whatever medium he's working with.
Black Mountain (Jajaguwar)
This band just might have a little something for everyone. From soul to heavy Sabbath-y songs to garage rock (the good kind) to psychedelic synthesizer numbers, all executed with finesse. Too bad (but good for them, I suppose) when they visit Albuquerque next month they're opening for Coldplay at the Pepsi-sign-ridden Journal Pavilion. Yuck!
Towers of London (TVT)
I'm pretty sure that Towers of London should focus less on their “look at me—I'm obnoxiously British” antics (not to mention their '80s metal/punk rock look) and more on doing something that hasn't already been done by the Sex Pistols (and possibly Spinal Tap).