It’s the time of year for roundups, when pundits fill space in blogs and papers by making lists of things. In my case, as it’s been about a year since the last time I did it, I thought I’d pass along some music recommendations.

If my neighbours have ever wondered this year just what that racket is that’s been coming from my cave, here’s the answer: my current four favourite albums.

Take one astonishing guitarist and singer. Add drums that sound like a washing machine being intricately and thoroughly hurled down a flight of stairs. The result, in the case of Marnie Stern‘s eponymous third album (above), is a glorious, inspiring, joyful noise that makes you feel like you could leap out of the window and fly.

With plaintive Kermit the Frog-style vocals, sparkling guitar and irresistible shake-it-to-the-left-shake-it-to-the-right rhythms Darwin Deez‘s debut album is charming, chiming pop perfection. And check out his moustache!

The ‘parental advisory’ sticker on Maniac Meat by Tobacco is, partly, a joke: the vocals on this album are mostly unintelligible and what few words I can make out don’t seem that rude at all. What is rude is the music: this raucous homebrewed electronic brouhaha never fails to put a grin on my face. Let it wallop you.

Lastly, in honour of Don Van Vliet who will be sorely missed, here’s an album I’ve adored ever since I first heard it when I was at school: Safe As Milk by Captain Beefheart.

I’ve included links in the text above to pages where you can try the music out for yourself. Happy listening.