- The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic) – Many consider Adam Granduciel to be the decade’s biggest genius, particularly those who never lived through the original era of 1970s anthemic rock. Granduciel has honed his riffs to a gleaming point, with vocals and an easygoing style that sometimes recalls Blitzen Trapper on tracks like “Strangest Thing.” Still, ‘70s emulation remains derivative at its heart.
- Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains (Matador) – Josh Homme’s assumption of rock’s brashness mantle can be equal parts bold and annoying. Thankfully, Mark Ronson’s production makes Villains sound like the best glam-rock Bowie, even if a sense of commerce is always present.
- LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
LCD Soundsystem, American Dream (DFA/Columbia) – James Murphy barely let the LCD corpse grow cold before resurrecting the band with a new political earnestness enhancing familiar electronic beats that at times resemble Remain in Light-era Talking Heads. Songs like “Emotional Haircut” and the title track are loaded wtih dance-floor fun.
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Punishment of Luxury
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Punishment of Luxury (White Noise Records) – Even some of OMD’s biggest ‘80s fans may not know that the Merseyside electronica band has released two studio albums since reuniting in 2006. The group is hoping to change that with the new Punishment of Luxury. Some of the tracks here sound as fresh as the band’s earliest works once did, but a few come too close to their 1985-96 period, judged by most to be OMD’s “crappy era.” By and large, the 2017 OMD avoids stepping in it.