Artist: The Kooks Track: "Always Where I Need to Be" Album: Konk Listen

People have soured a bit on the jangly, snot-nosed garage rock that came crashing onto American shores from England during the past five years. That's likely why The Kooks have tightened their sound, become better songwriters and honed in the energy of their crushing debut into a more polished, dynamic studio sound.

Plenty of hip-shaking numbers remain, but the balls-to-the-wall shimmer heard on every track from Inside In/Inside Out is only one facet of an evolving band who sounds less likely to punch each other in the face. This is one of my favorite records of the year.

(I linked to the entire streamable record on AOL Spinner, but it will be streaming only until Monday. After then, click here.)