The Architects, Keys to the Building (Anodyne). The brothers Phillips swing a wrecking ball into the ghosts of the Gadgits' past and erect a new, frenzied, fist-pumping franchise in its place.
Arthur Dodge & the Horsefeathers, Room #4 (Remedy). King Arthur gargles with bourbon and broken glass, rounds up the Horsefeathers for a bleary-eyed singer-songwriter stomp.
Elevator Division, Years (Second Nature). Emulating early U2, Elevator Division creates stadium-swallowing choruses without sacrificing emotional intimacy.
The Get Up Kids, Guilt Show (Vagrant). The GUKs further solidify their wet-dream status for angsty teen girls -- and boys -- the world over. They apologize to nobody.
James Dean Trio, Getting Scary (Record Machine). Free jazz and mind-melting metal collide on a debut that hits like a derailed train blindsiding a napalm-loaded tanker.
Namelessnumberheadman, Your Voice Repeating (Record Machine). Art-rock heroes cross their wires in all the right ways with a dreamy collection of moody masterpieces.
Nezbeat, From the Huge Silence (Independent). Nez raids the pantry for top-shelf talent -- Mac Lethal, Joe Good, Approach, Brother of Moses, Krystle Warren and the Capsules included -- and mixes them with adventurous production to create an ambitious sonic soufflé.
The Only Children, Change of Living (Glurp). Former members of the Anniversary get some tips from the stylist for Kings of Leon and transform vintage earthiness into vital rock.
Old Canes, Early Morning Hymns (Second Nature). Appleseed Cast-outs corral the spirit of Woody Guthrie's fascist-killing acoustics and get the coffeehouse buzzing with fervent folk.
Various Artists, Murder Dog Presents: Kansas City (Blood Rush). A bloated, scattershot compilation that nonetheless showcases the true grit of Kansas City hip-hop.