The best Chicago music of 2011
5. Apteka, 'Gargoyle Days' (aptekamusic.com)
This quartet builds an expressway to your skull in the grand tradition of Sonic Youth, Spiritualized and other guitar armies. On its first full-length album, Apteka luxuriates in the sound and physicality of humming amplifiers, but crucially, the band doesn't forget the songs.
9. Soft Speaker, 'I'll Tend Your Garden' (softspeaker.com)
The first of two full-length albums released by this co-ed quartet this year, "I'll Tend Your Garden" is a haven for guitar lovers. Six-string tones overlap and crash, sometimes hurtling ahead, other times creating huge, cavernous spaces for bass and drums to roam. Though the vocals are fairly nondescript, they become another almost subliminal texture in the band's widescreen sound.