In the indie-rock canon, the Pacific Northwest gets its rep mostly from its Seattle and Olympia greats. Which makes sense: Washington's Pacific neighbors, Portland and British Columbia, haven't had important record labels like Sub Pop and K to push their best bands. But the best Pac-NW album of the year is just a ferry ride away from Seattle, and perhaps the short distance (and free Canadian healthcare) was all it took for Victoria, B.C.'s Shapes and Sizes to craft such a captivating love letter to the region. The quartet's self-titled debut is easy to geographically spot — from the Built to Spill guitar-rock hooks in "Weekends at a Time" to the Sleater-Kinney grrl-gruff on "Goldenhead" — but much harder to pin down. Songs frequently transform and shapeshift (not spastically, but tastefully) in the best pop-rock combo of ambition and catchiness released so far this year. (Think if the insanity and bravado of Deerhoof was a... More >>>