There's got to be a few upsides to being one of the other guys in Deerhunter, and one is definitely shadow—literally sitting behind the eclipse of Bradford Cox, able to do just about anything without drawing much attention. So goes the liberty of Lockett Pundt, the band's stoic guitarist who has quietly revealed his excellent second LP under the solo moniker Lotus Plaza. And now comes the downside: having your work endlessly compared to Cox's—it's a logical thing to do, and in that sense here Pundt plays the more structured and responsible figure, writing predictably more traditional and direct material, recalling both the melodic ear-worm riffs and the more subdued n' looped atmospheres of recent Deerhunter output, all with a subtle flair that's undoubtedly his own.
Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven are more mature than their 2009 buzz status and a series of good-humored industry observations give them credit for. Yes, their last LP Beast Rest Forth Mouth was a major breakthrough, but it didn't come out of nowhere. And yes, preview streaming its follow-up at an ultra-slow drone was hilarious, but these guys do take their music very seriously. Over the last decade the 3-piece have perfected a sound that challenges easy classification — heavy-handed, textural psych-prog pop (there, I tried). I Love You, It's Cool is another reliable collection of said sound, with advancements in all the right places, most notably pace—it's their most pulsing release to date.
On his third release of 60's indebted scuz-rock as White Fence, Tim Presley decided to spread the set over two albums. Vol. 1 is available now, Vol. 2 comes later, at which point they'll be packaged together as a double album. And without hearing Vol.2, I still have to wonder whether all these sketches could have been edited down to one cohesive LP, as Presley continues to indulge in the same Kinks-ish territory of previous efforts. That said, this brand of acid jam need not be scrutized too closely, most fans aren't likely to mind twice the trip.
Highly influential "folktronica" experimentalists The Books officially called it a day earlier this year. Their once unheard-of found-sound-slicing had become more ordinary in the last decade, and the duo expressed a need to find new inspirations. So this is guitarist Nick Zammuto's answer, and it shows no signs of writer's block. Zammuto dazzles with organic instrumentation, frenetic collage-work, and a refreshing amount of straight-up singing.
As part of indie-pop legends Teenage Fanclub, the soft-voiced Gerard Love has little to prove in 2012. Except maybe that's he's still got it; and Love does more than assure that on Electric Cables, a lush record that drifts with ease. Delicate and heady without ever losing groove, the album plays on like a friendly time-warp, somewhere between psych-era Beatles and Belle and Sebastian.