King Sparrow, King Sparrow: If I had to pick the one album by a Chicago band that blew me away this year, it was beautifully mastered self-titled full-length from Chicago rock trio King Sparrow. Being very familiar with the band (and all the songs present on the album) prior to its release, I was not expecting any surprises, but my jaw still dropped the first time I heard the finished product. It's that good. The band's sound runs the gamut from gritty and nasty to surfy and poppy, and listening to the finished album, you can tell it was an intense labor of love for all the parties who had a hand in its creation. It is absolutely spot-on, in terms of songcraft, performance, and production. (Unsigned; available in CD and digital formats here).
produced by Brian Zieske at Gallery of Carpet Recording Inc
Secret Colours, Secret Colours: This full-length debut from Chicago psych-pop revivalists Secret Colours is thoroughly enjoyable, from start to finish (read a full review here). The album blends foggy psychedelic flavoring with a sweet naivete that wears very well indeed. The band members definitely wear their influences on their sleeves on this record, but there isn't a bad track in the bunch.
recorded at Gallery of Carpet Recording Inc