Give Up
(Sub Pop)
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Composed by masterful IDM popster Jimmy Tamborello (of Figurine and Dntel), and indierock songwriting genius Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie), Postal Service is an indie-nerd's wet dream--a genre-defying supergroup that has created a perfect pop record. I am not messing with you; this is a perfect record. Tamborello's cracked and chirping beats lay a patchwork which registers itself perfectly alongside Gibbard's polished voice and grammatically correct song structure. (He only sings in complete sentences.) On any other occasion, lyrics like, "I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned," would be a little much, were they not sung by a man with such a sincere voice. Throw in the laptop beats and programming of Tamborello, and it's easy to see how remarkable the end result of this collaboration has become. It's a frigging crime how incredible this record is. CARMELO MARTINEZ

The Vim and Vigor of Alvarius B and Cerberus Shoal
(North East Indie)
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If there is an afterlife, and I'm not banished to hell for a life's worth of snide comments and socialist tendencies, I think Cerberus Shoal will be waiting on a cloud to greet me just after I cross over to the other side. Their harmonies are the sound of ascension, resting on fluttery, feathery transcendence with a haunting pure-of-heartness. They sing with baptismal clarity over a blossom of field recordings--a percussive typewriter, rickety guitar, the silverware clatter of a cafeteria. "Sky blue and cherry-red windy resplendor," they sing on "Ding." "Never an average mind in winter." They are cherubs delivering absolution. And, on the other end of the spectrum is the gravel-deep voice of Alvarius B, a charred wraith singing the same song, but imbuing it with a troubled, sinister quality. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Wonderful Rainbow
(Load Records)
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Yes, two people can make this much noise, but most of them aim to have half the skills of Lightning Bolt. With Brian Gibson on bass and Brian Chippendale on drums, Lightning Bolt is metal done by Providence, RI punk geeks too smart for their own instruments. Playing through a 2,000-watt modified bass, Gibson lays down distorted riffs that sound like they're coming at you through giant helicopter blades, while Chippendale fills every half-second of space with an overflow of drum beats. Adding to the commotion is a microphone rigged to fabric around Chippendale's mouth--a junky piece of electronics that makes his occasional vocal outbursts sound like he's been swallowed by a giant trash compactor. They make a prog-metal-noise blend that's best experienced live, but comes off just as mind-blowing on Wonderful Rainbow. JENNIFER MAERZ

* * * * Chupacabra
* * * Jackalope
* * Flying Squirrel
* Sasquatch