Yeah, this one's not even close. After being fortunate enough to attend 12 shows during Summer Tour, then 9 of 12 shows on Phish's Fall Tour (and couch touring the other three), I have to say that these sonsabitches haven't performed / improvised at this level since the legendary Fall Tour '97 / NYE Run '97 / Island Tour '98 era. With '13 NYE Run just 5 days away, we can only hope that they deliver something close to what went down from late October thru early November. STOKED BRAH.
In Russian Circles' sonic arsenal, the atmospherics are the glue that binds their whole bag of tricks together. Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines (and a touring member of Interpol), has helmed the last three (excellent) Russian Circles albums, helping to shape the band's evocative, dramatic music into something that's entirely lyrical despite being totally wordless.
This one's kinda a dark horse. It's loud and fast, which will help you keep the RPMS up. But the fact that it's scary as fuck will want to make you outrun it like it's a relentless methed-up boogeyman who's looking to get some tail. (Yours.)
If you enjoyed 2011's Smoke Ring For My Halo (and you should've), you'll like this one. The immediate differences are the song lengths (Wakin's are longer) and the overall tone (Wakin is somewhat sunnier), but otherwise, you know what yer gettin' here - stoner / slacker poetry over a pleasant, hazy acoustic bedding. A perfect soundtrack for the ever-increasingly brief interlude between Winter and Summer, whatever that's called again.
Major Stars - Decibels of Gratitude
Not gonna lie, I haven't checked in on these guys since 2005's 4 (the last 6 minutes or so of "Song for Turner" make me wish the '90s had never ended), but apparently in the interim they've signed up someone to sing somewhat generic rock chick vocals over their usual grungy licks. It's not that these vocals are "bad," per se; the singing itself is perfectly serviceable. But a good rule of thumb for all good bands should be to actively avoid sounding like Alabama Shakes at all costs, and these vocals are a firm step in the wrong direction.
The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
The discussion around this record shouldn't be about whether or not this is one of the year's best records. Nononononono. Instead, people should be wondering if this sack of pretentious, incoherent dogshit is the most overrated record in the history of records. If you've even casually said that you "enjoy" this, please ask yourself, "why?" Is it the total lack of memorable melodies? Is it the obnoxiously bloated running time? Maybe you're a huge "fan" of the nineteen fucking minute track smack dab in the middle of this shitburger that contains ZERO actual notes of music?? FUCK!! For an act that's so oppressively "Euro," this album is as self-indulgent, gassy, and useless as June Shannon waiting in line for the chocolate wonderfall at Golden Corral.