3. The Big Pink - "A Brief History Of Love"
"Velvet" was my favorite new song of the year. I heard it, I loved it, I raved about it to anyone that would listen. Huge and intimate at the same time, bombastic and dreamy, it was like if My Bloody Valentine wrote anthems, or Coldplay with a lesson in Jesus and Mary Chain, but not garbage. The follow-up, "Dominos", was far more arena-chant (one friend called it Happy Mondays-esque) than I expected, but even after one listen I couldn't get it out of my head. The full-length doesn't have the concentrated perfection of "Velvet", but it's an astoundingly large-sounding record that never loses faith in it's big-beat shoegaze testifying.
2. Metric - "Fantasies"
An unexpected entry, as Metric has never really thrilled me in the past, although I've certainly not had anything bad to say about them. This one is a modern pop platter - emphasis on the modern - that sounds to me like if all the teen-poppers actually rocked. Catchy like the plague, intricate production, melodies that sigh and wail, with a sheen of glistening, icy, mirror-ball synths. It's the soundtrack to the party that everyone was invited to but nobody showed up at, so you just dance anyway. And extra credit to them for finally asking, on the album's highlight, "Who would you rather be? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?"
1. A Place To Bury Strangers - "Exploding Head"
Noise Noise Noise. Sure they may be knocking off their noise-gaze forebears, but they're doing it better and with more style and consistency than anyone else. Their live show is stroke-inducingly strobe-a-rific, and the buzzing sighed vocals, white noise avalanche of guitars, and thundering robotic rhythm section are maybe one of the best things going these days. While the re-recording of "Everything Always Goes Wrong" is, in this writer's opinion, inferior to its earlier EP incarnation, the album version still annihilates any competition.