Xasthur Defective EpitaphHydra Head
We’ll wax poetic all day about how great Pelican and Jesu are, but this week it’s time to praise the grimmest, Hydra-heathen to date–Xasthur. Following last year’s Subliminal Genocide, Defective Epitaph finds the California-based doomsayer drenched in psychedelic agony. Taking cues from the ambient sounds of Varg Vikernes (a.k.a Burzum), Xasthur has taken the term “atmospheric” to new heights. Long gone are the days of corny guitar solos and foolish satanic lyrics, for Xasthur is here to spread the true misanthropic word. FM

Midnight Juggernauts DystopiaSiberia
This debut LP from Melbourne’s Midnight Juggernauts is still only available in Australia, but it’s totally worth the extra effort to get your hands on it. With hints of prog-rock and ’70s sci-fi themes, Dystopia’s soaring synth melodies, falsetto-laden choruses, and unironic grandness are utterly infectious. RH

Special TeamzStereotypezDuckdown
Duckdown Records is finally releasing its first non-Boot Camp Clik-related artist album, and Boston’s Special Teamz couldn’t kill it any harder. How often will you hear an album that boasts such collaborators as Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, Devin the Dude, Sean Price, Ill Bill, and Buckshot? The rise of gritty East Coast production and angst is upon us. FM

Still GoingStill GoingThemeDFA
With all the great dance 12s dropping from DFA lately, it’s been tough to go a week without including one of the label’s releases here on the old top ten. Still Going is Eric Duncan from Rub-N-Tug and Oliver Spencer from Manthraxx, and these two producers own the world of patient, unadorned disco-house. RH

VariousThe Kings of Electro: Compiled and Mixed by Playgroup and Alter EgoRapster
Playgroup and Alter Ego have stepped up to the 808 plate, mixing together some of the rare electro jams that paved the way for countless contemporary artists. From Deee-Lite’s “What Is Love” to Just Ice’s “Turbocharged,” this two-disc collection is a bass-fiend’s paradise. This is a critical collection for any fan of vintage dance music. FM

Morgan GeistThe Driving MemoirsEnviron
This “lost” LP from Morgan Geist shows us that the Metro Area member has a bit more up his sleeve than just nu-disco. Dedicated to Geist’s sister, who died in a car crash, The Driving Memoirs’ diverse styles (techno, house, downtempo) might be off-putting if each track weren’t so impeccable. If you haven’t already been convinced that this guy’s one of the best in the game, then this album should do the trick. RH

Kronos Quartet Plays Sigur RósNonesuch
Classical music isn’t typically a genre of singles, but then again, Kronos Quartet isn’t really your typical classical string quartet. On this one-off cover release, Sigur Rós’ already sublime “Flugufrelsarinn,” from the Ágætis Byrjun album, gets reworked into a melancholy, instrumental heart-stopper that moves toward the pastoral without losing the momentousness of the original. RH

Tender ButtonsHot AbductionsGSL
At the expense of sounding like a hater, the majority of recent GSL releases have been on the mediocre-at-best tip. Kill Me Tomorrow’s Tender Buttons project may be the band that gets the label back on track. Comprised of spacey synth noise, à la Comets on Fire, and restrained punk howling, Hot Abductions is art-rock that is undeniably original and filled with urgency. FM

Michael ShowalterSandwiches & CatsJDub
Most comedy albums go straight to the overflowing promo trash heap here at XLR8R, but as fans of The State and Wet Hot American Summer, we had to give Mr. Showalter’s LP a chance. Thank God we did. The skits here are pretty weak, but the live stand-up is understated, clever, and gut-wrenchingly hilarious. RH

Robyn “Since U Been Gone” (Live)
Is there something curious about a country that breeds pop stars who can take any song and turn it into legitimate gold? I’m not sure if it’s a Swedish thing, but Robyn does one hell of a job converting Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” into a moody, electronic piece of ’80s synth-pop mastery. Download this immediately. FM

FM-Fred Miketa
RH-Ross Holland