You’re alone, you’ve got nothing to do, maybe you’re tripping, maybe you’re stoned. Check out these albums if you haven’t already heard them. Get ready to get lost.
1. Microcastle -- Deerhunter
Microcastle was the album that saw Deerhunter solidify themselves as a unique force in indie rock. Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt construct sprawling, atmospheric gems that seem to stretch far beyond their three or four minute time slots. Listen closely and listen alone. Deerhunter’s third album speaks to its listeners like few other LPs in recent memory. When Bradford Cox whisper-sings “Crucified on a cross/ in front of all my closest friends” in Calvary Scars, he captures the same melodramatic solipsism invoked by Emily Dickinson some 150 years before when she named herself “the queen of Calvary.” It’s bold, ballsy, excessive and brilliant. Light up and listen.
2. The Three E.P.’s -- The Beta Band
The Beta Band’s collection of three early recordings is, by any measure, almost impossibly expansive. Over the course of the album -- which, despite its cut-and-paste origins, coheres better than the vast majority of singularly conceived and recorded albums -- the group experiments with indie-rock, then-novel electronic elements and repetitive, shamanic noise. The album’s centerpiece, “Monolith,” is exactly what its name alleges -- a 16-minute behemoth that, to this day, sounds like nothing recorded before or since. Its bird songs, its bursts of noise, its brave new sounds are the stuff that acid trips are made of. Or is it the other way around?
3. The Year of Hibernation -- Youth Lagoon
When I caught Youth Lagoon at the Mercury Lounge two years ago, I was shocked by the clarity of singer Trevor Powers’ voice. On record, Powers sings in a muted tenor that consistently struggles against his synths. It’s that struggle -- and the larger tensions it brings to light -- that make The Year of Hibernation such an engrossing listen. Spark up and get yourself engrossed. You won’t regret it.
4. Loveless -- My Bloody Valentine
You’ve probably heard it. You’ve probably been lost in it. With the release of the re - mastered version, you now have a good excuse to experience it again. And what an experience it is. The undisputed masterpiece of shoegaze remains an essential sonic document, still unparalleled in its evocations, still undeniably effective at turning your head into sound.
5. The Moon and Antarctica -- Modest Mouse
The Moon and Antarctica is not just a collection of songs. Modest Mouse’s breakthrough album is a comprehensive exploration of the cosmos, an album that humanizes gravity, that distils human experience to its quintessence -- loneliness -- via a triumphant procession of loathing, love, resignation, inspiration and sarcasm. Frontman Isaac Brock observes, questions, coerces. He’s hysterical, vitriolic, earnest. And his masterpiece is a peerless celebration of seemingly contradictory elements that dovetail at infinity.
6. It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water -- The Microphones
Ah, the Microphones. They -- well, primarily singer-songwriter Phil Evrum -- wrote sweltering low-fi psych-folk songs for hot summer days. Evrum’s lyricism drips with nostalgia for youth, for clarity, for innocence, whether real or imagined. The line between memory and feeling blurs, slides into the fuzz of Evrum’s buzz saw guitar. Feeling becomes memory, memory becomes feeling, and Evrum delights in leading us toward an illusion of reconciliation. And if none of that made sense, that’s all the more reason to give the album a few spins. Just be sure to delve into its dense thicket of meaning through a dense cloud of smoke.
7. Past Life Martyred Saints – EMA
Past Life Martyred Saints packs at least one moment of pure catharsis on every single one of its songs. Words may be cheap, but lyrics -- EMA’s lyrics -- come with a heavy emotional toll. Erika M. Anderson’s arms are a see-thru plastic, a bloodless, skinless plastic, and once you hear her debut album, you’ll never forget that. For the emotionally inclined stoner who’s home for the night.
8. Kaputt – Destroyer
Dan Bejar’s Destroyer are nearing the end of their second decade, but they’ve never sounded better than on 2011’s Kaputt. Bejar relaxes his lyrical genius across the album’s nine songs. His most brilliant lines -- “You’ll never guess just where I’ve been/ A life abandoned midstream,” for example -- seem effortless, like that sort of genius just oozes from his mouth at random, occasionally slipping out while he’s in a recording booth. For the intellectually inclined stoner.
9. Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts -- M83
M83’s two most recent albums have seen Anthony Gonzalez’s band enter the mainstream lexicon via the breakout success of "We Own the Sky" and "Midnight City," but the group’s most awe-inspiring album is its second. The word “epic” hangs over every M83 album and over nearly every M83 song, but no album -- not Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, not Saturdays = Youth -- deserves that descriptor so much as Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts. The album’s pivot, “On a White Lake, Near a Green Mountain,” conjures M83’s ultimate maelstrom, an overwhelmingly broad sonic storm intent on sucking listeners into its ageless vortex, and destined to be described by this writer in language usually confined to the hell that is an entry level creative writing class.
10. Lonerism -- Tame Impala
Psych rock is alive and well in the 21st century thanks to Tame Impala. Earlier this year the band released their second album to near universal critical acclaim. In the process, they issued psychedelic rock’s most convincing statement in the last decade. How’d they do it? Hooks. Lots of hooks. And fuzz. A lot of fuzz. In short: lots of fuzzy hooks.