1. “Psychrocker” – Honeymilk (featuring De Montevert). This is an absurdly catchy, fuzzed-out piece of psych-rock that just does it all right. Mad props.
2. “Elsewhere” – Nevasca. The good will out–sometimes it takes a partnership of seven record labels, but the good will out. Nevasca’s early ’00s emo-inspired sound sounds much more like Midwestern America than Murmansk, Russia, with dramatic guitar delivery, swooping vocals, and a highly emotional approach. Great stuff here.
3. “He Who Cried, ‘Whore!’” – The Insurrectionists. Does anybody remember Calibretto? If so, the Insurrectionist’s fusion of vaudevillian horror music tropes and crunchy alt-rock will sound wonderfully familiar: the blaring organ, the scampering bass, the high-drama timing, the oh-so-intriguing mix that lets it all be heard. To everyone else, this will sound super-fresh.
4. “I Live My Broken Dreams” – Gramma’s Boyfriend. Quirky ’80s guitar, Casio-eque drums, and Haley Bonar’s assured vocals transform this Daniel Johnston cover into something all its own.
5. “Day Off” – Ryan Dwork. Sweet bass jams and insistent drums power this groove-heavy rock tune. The distorted vocals fit oh-so-nicely over the instrumentation.
6. “Trust Me” – The Maisons. Snarling vocals and grungy guitar can’t feel fresh, can it? The Maisons beg to differ.
7. “Fold a Winning Hand” – Calico. Take a trad jazz outfit and fuse some patterned, wiry guitar and atmospheric post-rock-ish vibes on it, and you’re beginning to approximate Calico’s adventurous work.
8. “Diev” – Big Harp. I could have thrown this with the pop songs, but that would do a disservice to the garage rock that Big Harp is about. Sure, it’s not as scuzzy, abrasive, or ominous as some, but it’s still got that crunch, that attitude, and the bare-bones instrumentation. Rock on.
9. “Shrink” – Tallows. If post-rock tried to abandon the conventions of rock, Tallows is a rock band that just tries to make the conventions of rock really, really weird. Some funkiness, some melodicism, some bombastic elements, some dance-rock beats–yet all spun in an unusual way.