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Best Local Album of the Past 12 Months St. Louis 2009 - The Loud Wars

Readers' Choice: Morning, Noon & Night (The Northwoods)

Recorded more than two years ago in various places around the United States — including San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios and producer Chris Walla's home studio in Portland, Oregon — The Loud Wars marks So Many Dynamos' Vagrant Records (www.vagrant.com) debut. The pedigree of a well-known indie label matches the bigger, more complicated scope of Wars' math-rock/post-punk tunes: Released in June, the album's zip-line keyboards, sharp-tack riffs and somersaulting rhythms feel like a crash course in multivariable calculus. For as guitar-heavy as most of the songs are, though, Wars' strength comes from diversity — first track "Artifacts of Sound" is an abstract-disco hit from another dimension, while finale "The Formula" is a meandering bit of space-rock synthpop. Throw in smart lyrics that take several listens to decode, and it's guaranteed that Wars will raise your IQ and make you shake your booty.

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