7. Tripping Daisy,
Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb (Island)
TD's most mature album to date, Atom Bomb displays the homeboys' ability to write terse polyrhythmic epics, pair Beatle-esque backing harmonics with quirky pop-punk, and update new wave and surf rock for the Pixies fan.

8. Tortoise, TNT (Thrill Jockey)
Tortoise grows by leaps and bounds on TNT and produces a fresh, thematically cohesive album (read: recurring melody here). Jazzy, but not jazz; electronic, but not techno. Brushed percussion, dueling marimbas, and lush strings make TNT the perfect soundtrack to a European tour.

9. The High Llamas, Cold and Bouncy (V2)
Listening to Sean O'Hagan without the elastic, off-kilter electronic arrangements of Cold and Bouncy is like eating cereal without milk. This time Sean O'Hagan and company back up the Brian Wilson idolatry with the perfect marriage of sweet pop ballads and otherworldly electronic flourishes.

10. Bedhead, Transaction de Novo
(Trance Syndicate)
Melancholy amplified for full effect. Bedhead turns up the volume on trademarked barely audible vocals and hushed guitar-drums-bass. A deliberate approach to sparse, emotive indie-rock, Transaction is loud in all the right places, soft in all the others.

--Jessica Parker
Jessica Parker is the intern for the music department.

Reasons for Living in 1998
1. Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge)
2. Morcheeba, Big Calm (Sire)
3. Pinetop Seven, Rigging the Topsails (Truckstop/Atavistic)

4. P.M. Dawn, Dearest Christian: I'm So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad (Gee Street/V2)

5. Richard Davies, Telegraph (Flydaddy)
6. Jon Langford, Skull Orchard (Sugar Free)
7. The Handsome Family, Through the Trees (Carrot Top)
8. Public Enemy, He Got Game (Def Jam)
9. Monster Magnet, Powertrip (A&M)
10. N'dea Davenport, N'dea Davenport (Delicious Vinyl/V2)
11. Local H, Pack Up the Cats (Island)
12. Mercury Rev, Deserters Songs (V2)
13. The Apples In Stereo, Tone Soul Evolution (Spin Art/Sire)
14. Smashing Pumpkins, Adore (Virgin)
15. Cradle of Filth, Cruelty and the Beast (Fierce/Mayhem)
16. Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty (Grand Royal/Capitol)
17. Pulp, This Is Hardcore (Island)
18. Belle and Sebastian, The Boy With the Arab Strap (Matador)
19. Liz Phair, Whitechocolatespaceegg (Matador/Capitol)
20. Garbage, Version 2.0 (Almo)
--Jim DeRogatis

Coming next week: the year in local music and results of the readers' poll.

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