Since being back, I've picked up the following albums:
The National- Boxer
Frog Eyes- Tears of the Valedictorian
Hot Chip's DJ Kicks
Matthew Dear- Asa Breed
Handsome Furs- Plague Park
Some initial thoughts:
-The National album is excellent. It's like all the best mellow songs from Alligator. "Fake Empire" sort of makes me teary.
-Shocking no one I'm sure, I'm really digging the Handsome Furs album. What? Nicole likes a Wolf Parade side-project? Who expected that? Weirdly, a lot of reviews I've read have called the album "minimal," which I don't really think is the best descriptor. It's not super rockin' like WP and they use a drum machine, but Dan Boeckner and his fiance still make a pretty significant amount of noise. And it's reminding me that I do actually like his voice almost as much as Spencer Krug's.
-I'm still not totally sold on this Battles album that everyone is raving about. "Atlas" is pretty sweet, totally intense and actually sort of frightening (in a good way?), but I haven't really connected with anything else. I realize calling a robotic album like this "cold" is a bit of a cheap shot (a term I've often heard used against M83, which I don't agree with), but that's how it's coming across to me at the moment.
-Hot Chip's DJ Kicks: Another fine addition to the DJ Kicks series, though I'm not sure any will be as awesome as Erlend Oye's. I'm really loving the New Order "Bizarre Love Triangle" remix that blends nicely into a rap song (!) by someone named "Young Leek."
Haven't spent enough time with Frog Eyes or Matthew Dear to comment on them yet, but so far, so good.