Pilotdrift, Water Sphere (Good Records). Combining cinematic orchestration with the twisted grandiloquence of Queen or Bobby Conn, this extraordinary debut from Texarkana's Pilotdrift is a surprise a second. Lush and melodic odes to weightlessness ("Bubblecraft") and illicit love affairs between Napoleon, Einstein and Doris Day ("Late Night in a Wax Museum") make the first band signed to Polyphonic Spree's new label sound like superior beings from a distant planet. -- La Briola
KTU, 8 Armed Monkey (Thirsty Ear). Kluster's Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen, who specialize in accordions (of all things), team up with King Crimson's Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto to create strange soundscapes that are occasionally indulgent but typically fascinating. Their Monkey is a musical mutant that climbs to impressive heights. Maybe art-rock bands should mate more often. -- Roberts
Dungen, Ta Det Lugnt (Kemado). After making waves as a scarce import, Dungen's opus has gotten the double-disc reissue treatment. And it deserves every ounce of praise and plastic poured into it. The brainchild of Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes, Ta Det Lugnt is a deep-space probe of progressive, acid-washed pop that rivals the most fevered hallucinations of the Soft Machine and the Shocking Blue. -- Heller
Various Artists, Everything Is Illuminated (TVT). Actor/director Liev Schreiber's long-term obsession with Eastern European music and his own cultural identity collide on this charming motion-picture soundtrack, which showcases the talents of amnesia-prone composer Paul Cantelon (formerly of the Wild Colonials). With intoxicating cameos by Gogol Bordello, Tin Hat Trio, Little Jonathan and the Con Artists, the Old Country never sounded so alive and bewitching. Prost! -- La Briola
Mr. Oizo, Moustache (Half a Scissor) (Mute). French director-turned-aural-provocateur Quentin Dupieux is best known for "Flat Beat," which provided the soundtrack for a Levi's ad -- but don't let that detail prejudice you against his second opus as Mr. Oizo. Moustache is an eccentric collage of entertainingly odd beats and blips. If only all commercials could be this cool. -- Roberts
Echo and the Bunnymen, Siberia (Cooking Vinyl). Nearly thirty years on, Echo and the Bunnymen have preserved their greatest, most identifiable attributes. Just look inside Siberia: Ian McCulloch's shaggy mane still sprouts out of his scalp like an ink-dipped feather duster, and Will Sergeant's trademark bowl cut has almost reached Three Stooges proportions. Too bad their music hasn't retained such body, volume and luster. -- Heller
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