The summer exploded with quality surprises from all over the alternative universe, from Sebadoh's first album in 14 years to Superchunk's best album in their over two-decade career. No Age released an excellent, muted effort, while The Naked and Famous' second album was bursting with melody. MGMT found a sweet spot between their former radio-friendly self and their weirder impulses, and Willis Earl Beal brought hi-fi orchestrations to his sketchbook of tunes. Grouplove gave retro a new meaning and Arctic Monkeys paid tribute to Black Sabbath. Elvis Costello (by way of The Roots) and Franz Ferdinand found new genres to wiggle out of, and The 1975 and White Lies made songs that doubled as big-budget films. Holy Ghost! and Nine Inch Nails plumbed late '80s 120 Minutes-style synth sounds, and the likes of The Dodos, Volcano Choir and Okkervil River held down the fort on mountain-moving traditionalism. Then there's King Krule, who only cares about finding cracked beauty, no matter where or how. Sample all these releases and more right here.