SK Best of 2006 alert! Yesterday was a good day because of the arrival of this record, which immediately jumps to the head of the holiday listening line. If you are a fan of this site, then you like the mix of acoustic and electronic and no record released this year does it as well as Law by Madison, Wisconsin’s Cougar. These dudes are on the wavelength and totally understand the subtle dynamics that make both electronic and instrumental rock such affecting and emotive music and their use of both melody and space will instantly delight. They call it “Emergency Rock” and while I agree that there is urgency here, other bands have mined this terrain before. But what really moves me is not what is immediately obvious within the lush arrangements or the sparse silences, it’s that Cougar get the total picture. They associate the tunes with beautiful imagery (check their Websites); they work with post-rock pioneer John McEntire of Tortoise; they moonlight in the Youngblood Brassband, a completely different yet just as satisfying project; they have a huge and passionate set of influences (check out their list on myspace; nice one on the C-Clamp!); and, perhaps most importantly, they don’t slouch on the musicianship. If it’s not already obvious, I have instantly become a new fan. And so will you.

I debated posting what I considered the best tracks on the record — “Atlatl,” “Strict Scrutiny,” “Pulse Conditioner,” or “Lifetime Ranger” but all four are available to stream on their MySpace page. So you’ll just have to settle for “Merit” and it’s breathtaking crescendo at 1:13. If that’s not enough to get you to grab this record, check your pulse.

RIYL: Ratatat, Tortoise, DoF, King Seven, The Album Leaf, Master Mosquito, Couch

Buy Cougar Music: Law is available in your finer record stores and for download at the iTunes store here

Homepage: Cougar Homepage
MySpace: Cougar’s MySpace home