d.biddle, Rabbit and the Moon (Self-released). Rabbit and the Moon is d.biddle's finest, most inspired work. Duncan Barlow's brooding, whispery croon rolls in ominously like an impenetrable fog over the band's glacially paced, vibrato-drenched lullabies. The swelling strings, slide guitars and plodding rhythms enhance the texture of this record, which is both comforting and unnerving. — Herrera

DeVotchKa, A Mad & Faithful Telling (Anti-). Nick Urata may not be taking home Bono money, but he's found a way to earn a nice living making music his way, even though he's the only one using his methodology. Then again, maybe that's his secret. DeVotchKa's amalgam of folk exotica and rock savvy infuses cuts such as "Transliterator" with the unique personality of their creator. — Roberts

Drag the River, You Can't Live This Way (Suburban Home Records). While this album contains plenty of twangy tones and heartfelt harmonies that place it squarely in an alt-country context, it also incorporates a more diverse set of influences. From hints of Sam Cooke in Chad Price's warm vocals to whiffs of traditional rural folk on tunes like "Brookfeld," Live incorporates much more than its surface elements. — Goldstein

Dressy Bessy, Holler and Stomp (Transdreamer Records). Since lead vocalist and guitarist Tammy Ealom took on the main brunt of writing duties for the band, Dressy Bessy's sound has veered from its poppier roots to much starker tones and distorted riffs. Holler is no exception, and while it suffers from some fits and starts, it maps the band's impressive progression in just the past year. — Goldstein

Enemy Reign, Means to a Dead End (Self-released). Enemy Reign clawed its way out of the womb fully formed. And almost immediately, the band, led by former Skinless vocalist Sherwood Webber, claimed its rightful place in the local metal hierarchy. Enemy Reign, impeccably recorded by Dave Otero, takes all the best moments of extreme metal and melts them down into the most precious of metal. — Herrera

Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story), The Great Collapse (Needlepoint). From the first exuberant blast of brass to the final fuzzed-out guitar riff, Everything Absent or Distorted's The Great Collapse is a microcosm of life's joy and sorrow rendered into a dozen unforgettable songs. Despite the band's everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, this album is focused, polished and capable of changing your life. — Cory Casciato

Eyes Caught Fire, The Chantepleur (Self-released). Informed by a weaving together of dreams and deep forays into the imagination, this release is generous on emotional catharsis. Much of the appeal of these songs is a soft, soothing quality, yet all hit with tidal-wave force, like the realization of your heart's secret yearnings calling from within. — Murphy

F.O.E., King of the Mountain (Self-released). Although this album/mixtape features nearly the entire Jewell Tyme Music roster, F.O.E. is undoubtedly the star. Backed by the street-funk production of 800 the Jewell, Chase Da Cat, Noodie and others, the collection showcases F.O.E.'s mastery of rhyme flow and cadence. No wonder everyone in the city is begging for an F.O.E. verse on their album. — Salazar-Moreno

The Fire Drills, Cheap Lies (Self-released). Its sparse content notwithstanding, Cheap Lies draws from a long and admirable list of influences. In its brief playlist, the record manages to summon hints of everyone from the Ramones to Cheap Trick. Guitarist and vocalist Brandon Richie does an impressive job of infusing the band's punk roots with a degree of balladry. — Goldstein

Fissure Mystic, XXX Single (Self-released). Proving that "prog" doesn't have to mean overly technical and lacking in emotional content, this three-song EP is a marvel of guitar wizardry and dynamic rhythms framing sentimental but never saccharine songs. If ever indie and classic rock had a nexus, it's on this audacious release. — Murphy

Ghost Buffalo, The Magician (Suburban Home). After a number of lineup changes, Ghost Buffalo faced the daunting task of reinventing itself. But rather than rehash the past, Matt Bellinger, Marie Litton and their new cohorts — drummer Jed Kopp and bassist Ben Williams — emerged with a heavier, even more enthralling guitar-driven sound. — Herrera

Git Some, Cosmic Rock (1-2-3-4 Go!). Cosmic Rock captures all the high-voltage visceral energy of Git Some's live shows, especially on the frenetic "Trixy Loves Misty" and the motoring "Nice Suit." Guitarist Chuck French puts it best when he says some of the songs will kick your ass and some will get you high. Yes, indeed. — Solomon

Glenn Taylor Orchestra, Glenn Taylor Orchestra (Self-released). Rarely is the pedal steel used outside of country music, but Glenn Taylor is one of the few who takes the instrument to completely different places, especially when he's playing with the Bottesini Project or Ron Miles. On this first-rate debut album, Taylor explores Afro-pop, ska and jazz and gets electronic help from laptop wizard CacheFlowe. — Solomon

Brad Goode, Polytonal Dance Party (Origin). Trumpeter Brad Goode can swing something heavy, but on this date he gets knee-deep in some elastic grooves that at times recall Miles Davis's late-'70s fusion excursions. He also deconstructs "Autumn Nocturne" and turns out energetic takes on Burt Bacharach's "Going Out of My Head" and Stevie Wonder's "Golden Lady." — Solomon

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