Since I stopped working as a music critic in 2003, most of my listening tends to be either (a) new stuff by old bands that I already know I like, (b) old stuff by old bands that I already know I like, but can now buy online when the whim strikes me, or (c) stuff made by people I know from around here. It’s rare when a new or new-ish non-local band really captures my fancy anymore, so I figure I ought to report out since I’ve got two rocking my world of late.

The first is Battles, and their album Mirrored. The single “Atlas” is one of the coolest, catchiest things I’ve heard in a long, long time. Infectious from the first listen, which is sort of astonishing, since it’s sort of a math rock meets Burundi beats mash-up with strangely processed, unintelligible lyrics. This quartet of seasoned indie rock vets produce some remarkably nimble and complex music together, and do it with some truly impressive displays of creativity and instrumental skill. I had heard (and liked) their earlier EP’s, but this record takes them to a whole new plane of accomplishment.

The second band I’m enjoying a lot lately is Blitzen Trapper, especially their latest album Wild Mountain Nation. This one’s all over the place: they swing from knotty-proggy numbers to hashed-out Neil Young-style folkie fare, touching all sorts of straight-up melodic rock high points in between. I think they could fill the part of my heart that died when the wonderful Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci gave up the ghost last year; they’ve got the same sort of thrilling, eclectic, imaginative approach to stirring weird musical things together and creating magic in the process.

Both highly recommended, with some interesting back catalog that’s worth exploring if these rock your socks off.

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