[Editor's Note: Every Friday, our resident record store expert Michael Chin checks in with his weekly report of what the hell people who still buy records at local shops are listening to.]
Bring on the indie! Last time we checked in with Fingerprints, 420 E. 4th Street in Long Beach, (562) 433-4996, they were all about the '90s with top sellers like Fiona Apple, the Smashing Pumpkins and the Offspring. This time they've moved a decade into the future, bringing late 2000s and new indie hits to the game.
Stars were perhaps best known for 2010's "Dead Hearts," a song that while good in an eerily optimistic way didn't really accurately represent the band's whole sound. Drawing from much more '80s synth-based music like New Order, those who didn't (or couldn't) see past the first track of their 2010 album The Five Ghosts deprived themselves of an integral part of the deeply soulful new indie synth pop regime. The North's got the same idea, but with a much more appropriate first track. "The Theory of Relativity" has got enough synth bass and echoey arpeggios to give you a clearer picture -- and it takes number five this week.
4. Bob Mould, Silver Age (Merge)
Could this be the mark of a new age in rock? If anyone was going to herald this change, it would be Bob Mould -- whose role in the alternative scene was large enough that last year, members of the Foo Fighters, Spoon, The Hold Steady, No Age, Telekinesis and Superchunk (and Margaret Cho!) came together in LA to celebrate the man's career. There, he discussed a new solo record, which has just descended to grace us mere mortals with its presence. If this is it -- if this is the new era in rock --Mould's got it right. Good production values, cymbal-ridden jams give this album the head-thrashing awe necessary to take number four on the list.
3. Animal Collective, Centipede Hz (Domino)
The last we heard from Animal Collective in the studio album sense was the monumental Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009, one of the best albums released that year. (The album artwork is also really, really trippy. I wrote part of a term paper about that freaking album cover.) Centipede Hz marks the return of Deakin, who wasn't present on their 2009 LP. Since then, band member (if you can even really call Animal Collective a band) Panda Bear had his own bout of commercial success. But at long last, the Collective is back. As psychedelic as ever, I'm just glad that this time around I won't get a bad trip off staring at the album cover. It's still scary, though. Come on, guys, really? Stop being so creepy.
2. The Henry Clay People, Twenty-Five For the Rest of Our Lives (TBD)
Mmm, indie punk. I can never get enough of the garage band thing, really, and the Henry Clay People combine two of my favorite high school pastimes -- thrashing and puns made from the names of historical figures. Despite how the Henry Clay People's music may not lampoon Henry Clay the way I might if I had started the band, it's still a really, really good listen. The era of the garage band may be over, but the great part about the garage band mentality is that they don't give a crap.
1. Cat Power, Sun (Matador)
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You wouldn't peg Chan Marshall, the lady behind Cat Power, as the kind of musician to get caught up in the kind of trouble she did. In 2006, she admitted to having psychotic breaks due to her abuse of alcohol, which also hugely damaged her concert experience. Coming off a reputation developed by having a song on the Juno soundtrack, you really wouldn't think. But in any case, she has rebounded. 2008's Jukebox had as much soul as she's ever had, and this latest release combines that soul with an odd but welcome addition of some deep electronic wubs.