Between new Superchunk and Polvo albums, wonderful records from relative upstarts such as William Tyler and Mikal Cronin and a new entry from quaint Canadian act The Arcade Fire, it's been an incredibly productive year for the little-local-label-that-could, Merge Records. You'd be forgiven for overlooking Beyond the Drone, the debut LP from accidental New Jersey duo Saint Rich, on Merge. Recorded when two members of intricate instro-funk band Delicate Steve got stranded by Hurricane Sandy and swapped instruments, these dozen songs are tempestuous blends of country-rock ease, power-pop spunk and recondite weirdness. Wistful, romantic and wonderful, Beyond the Drone is open-road music in the same way as Workingman's Dead and a set that deserves a special listen above the din.
—Grayson Haver Currin