Best NYC rock album (2008)


With all the fuss over what constitutes a summer anthem—its sound, its look, its sentiment—and with all due respect to Rihanna’s splendid “Umbrella,” let us admit to ourselves that the official such jam of 2007 was a ludicrous, mortifying battle cry with bleating, incomprehensible, robotically pulverized lyrics and a mordant marching-munchkin beat that led some to imagine the Smurfs recast as fascist Kraftwerk fans laying siege to a Radio Shack. Ladies and gentleman, we give you “Atlas,” the bewildering lead single off NYC quartet Battles’ exhilarating Mirrored, a breathlessly complex art-rock leviathan that mingles merry melodies with pulverizing polyrhythms, high-tech wankery with good ol’ physical brutality. It’s both mesmerizing and impenetrable, and though a dazzling group effort, it’s drummer John Stanier (he of Helmet and Tomahawk) who provides the visceral heartbeat—albeit the heartbeat of a highly evolved mutant robo-beast with severe anxiety issues. Pump your fist in, like, 31/64 time.


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