One might have thought that it was both too rainy and too dark to run tonight, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. Each house was all decked out in Christmas decorations, and it was finally peaceful after several days cooped up with the family. Aside from the hooded man standing alone at the street corner, jogging at night is barely scary.

Autre Ne Veut - Autre Ne Veut
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I wasn't really sure I would enjoy this album. Like Jamie Lidell's masterful MultiplyAutre Ne Veut is disarming and surprisingly enjoyable, though that may not occur to you right away (at least, if you are not a very open-minded person towards modern R&B). Though at times his voice may feel harsh and his music seems a little more out-there than you're used to, there is a substantive amount of hooks and melodies to make it feel at once unfamiliar but still pleasant.

The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
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I think Ian Cohen sums it up best: "This is another 2010 example of a Boss-indebted band (see also: the National and Titus Andronicus) making epic outpourings of modern disillusionment and disappointment for people who can commiserate and return to fretting about their jobs and bank accounts once the house lights go up. But just because the concerns of The Suburbs are at times mundane, that makes them no less real. And that Arcade Fire can make such powerful art out of recognizing these moments makes our own existences feel worthy of documentation. By dropping Neon Bible's accusatory standpoint,The Suburbs delivers a life-affirming message similar to Funeral's: We're all in this together."

Lasted - Benoit Pioulard
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I think some might find this one a little bit boring. Most of the time, you can't always hear exactly what Thomas Meluch is singing, and for those that are heavily dependent on lyrics for their music experience may be frustrated. But Lasted is more about garnering a feeling than it is about clever turns of phrase and obscure references that will have you cross-referencing encyclopedias.

Special Affections - Diamond Rings
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I'm sure that this one will bring at least a couple of smiles. It is admittedly a little endearing that John O'Regan's debut album also came with something of a transformation, admitting that at times he's "feeling like a bit-part actor". It helps that his music is interminably catchy, and O'Regan does us the favor of making his love songs feel universally relatable.

Blooming Summer - Blue Hawaii

I only heard of this band because of a friend that brought it to my attention in early November. At the time I wasn't even listening to music very exclusively, instead trying to find my escapism in a few television comedies. Instead, Blooming Summer offers a kind of lush, dreamy, hazy avant-pop album. Every once in a while we need an album that feels at once removed from everything while still feeling deeply affected by it.

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