10 Ft. Ganja Plant
Shake Up The Place
ROIR
Street: 08.30
10 Ft. Ganja Plant = Augustus Pablo + Dennis Brown
The mysterious John Brown’s Body spin-off collective, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, continues to deliver conscious roots reggae with a dash of modern styling. Shake Up The Place is the band’s seventh release with the New York-based ROIR label. This 10-track offering features a nice balance between instrumental and vocal tracks, some of which are on loan from reggae legends Sylford Walker and Prince Jazzbo. The title track is a deep, seductive, down-tempo groove which glides into the punchy horns of the beat-seeking “Ringers Rock.” The dub-drenched drum and bass on “Strongback” will slap a smile on your face and then send you on a melodic excursion in “Hard Times,” one of two tracks with Jazzbo. Thank you, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, for returning us to the summit of roots mountain. –Courtney Blair

All Pigs Must Die
God is War
Southern Lord
Street: 08.16
All Pigs Must Die = Black Breath + Early Graves + Trap Them
Big. Ugly. Hateful. All Pigs Must Die are here to kick the shit out of your brain. This is aggressive music distilled to its purest form, more akin to a blindfolded sledgehammer attack than the precision chainsaw slices of Converge (with whom APMD share drummer Ben Koller). God is War seems impossibly long, even though it only clocks in at about 30 minutes––that’s how unrelenting the aural assault is. The voice of Kevin Baker (also of The Hope Conspiracy) bursts and buzzes alongside the loud, heavy walls of guitar and bass, providing a decidedly dark human element among the noise. The title track and album closer “Sadistic Vindicator” slows down the manic pace, allowing listeners to wallow in the big, ugly hatefulness. And if all that isn’t enough, the cover art features an illustration of Jesus’ head being impaled upon an inverted cross. Come on, get ugly. –Ricky Vigil

Atari Teenage Riot
Is This Hyperreal?
Dim Mak
Street: 06.21
Atari Teenage Riot = Merzbow + (Pigface – Skinny Puppy) x KMFDM
Formed in 1992, Germany’s original digital hardcore ranters, Atari Teenage Riot, channeled the future, layering leftist anarchic screeds over a veritable wall of sound and fury with beats so hard they could break your teeth. With Hanin Elias’ (Pigface) 1999 exit, the subsequent breakup in 2000, and the 2001 death of MC Carl Crack, it looked like the band’s days were over but for a 2006 retrospective. Elias’ 2009 plans to return to the band were sidelined by vocal issues (screaming nonstop is, apparently, bad for the voice), and the band’s ravings remained silent. But they have survived to rant another day, with the addition of new MC CX KiDTRONiK joining Nic Endo and Alec Empire and guests Jeff Aug and Dim Mak founder Steve Aoki to … well, pretty much make the same music all over again. With strong political stances against human trafficking (“Blood in my Eyes”), Internet censorship (“Activate!,” “Shadow Identity”), and in support of hacktivism (“Digital Decay,” “Codebreaker”), delivered in the same basic scream-rap-rant style over the same backing noise, it is clear they have not left their teen years behind. –Madelyn Boudreaux

Big Talk
Self-titled
Epitaph
Street: 07.12
Big Talk = A weak attempt at Tom Petty-style rock
The Killers weren't killing much of anything other than their fan base by the end of their short-lived career ... oh, wait.. The Killers still exist? As I hit play on Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci’s debut album Big Talk, I’m curious to see what he’ll have to offer. With opening track “Katzenjammer,” we get right into some radio rock with flavors of U2 and maybe a little Ryan Adams’ Rock N Roll album. Vannucci’s voice is nothing incredible and the album rings generic. I'm very surprised to see that this is an Epitaph Records release. Perhaps they see a money shot in Big Talk? Tons of people will love this album, and I’m sure Big Talk will be on the radio, but in a time where creativity actually gets you somewhere, this is not a strong debut. It is pretty cool to see the abilities of Vannucci outside of the drum kit, however, so I give him that. Good thing he’s already probably pretty loaded and getting loving from The Killers groupies, cause I don’t think he hit gold here. –Tom Bennett

Bomb the Music Industry!
Vacation
Really Records
Street: 07.26
Bomb the Music Industry! = Fake Problems + Weezer + Dillinger Four
Originally a bedroom-based one-man lo-fi ska band, Bomb the Music Industry! have continously evolved and expanded their sound since forming in 2004. As its title implies, Vacation is definitely a summer album––it sounds like what might happen if Neutral Milk Hotel were stranded on a beach with an old school Nintendo and some Screeching Weasel records. Bandleader Jeff Rosenstock’s lyrics are still honest and paint a picture of a world that’s pretty fucked, but this is BTMI!’s most upbeat album. The closing trio of songs continues the band’s tradition of ending albums strong, moving from melodic, spazzy and sentimental punk to straight chiptune tripping and finishing off with moments worthy of epic singalongs. It might take a few listens for fans to appreciate the ample “oooohhs” and soft beachiness combined with BTMI!’s increasingly melodic sloppiness, but when this album finally clicks, it’s pretty goddamn amazing. Download it for free at quoteunquoterecords.com. –Ricky Vigil

Chucha Santamaria Y Usted
Self-titled
Young Cubs
Street: 06.28
CSYU = CSS + Delorean
This group, nicely abbreviated to CSYU, is a mixture of so many right trends in global music now. It blends atypical lyrics (en español) and an amalgam of classical sounds like guitar with electronic filters, and provides solid Latin percussion as the base of the bass. I don’t understand what the group is saying, but let’s be clear, I don’t give a shit what they’re saying, because I dig the music. They could tell me I’m a “pinche gringo” and I wouldn’t give a shit (they’re proabaly right). A good way to view foreign-language music that one doesn’t have a full grasp on is to view it as an extra instrument; in this case, a percussive one, using the hard consonants as beats to play off the traditional drum tracks. The whole picture of this is nice, and, per usual with shorter releases, makes me want more than the proffered eight tracks. –JP

Chuck Ragan
Covering Ground
SideOneDummy
Street: 09.13
Chuck Ragan = Rumbleseat + Tim Barry + Dave Hause
As excited as I am about the prospect of new material from Hot Water Music, I must admit that I was worried Chuck Ragan’s solo music would fall by the wayside. Covering Ground has assuaged my fears completely, as it is definitely Ragan’s best solo material to date. The rootsy, folky solo-punk movement has lost some steam over the years, but Ragan’s songwriting and the players behind him (including fiddler Jon Gaunt, stand-up bassist Joe Ginsberg and guests such as Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem and Frank Turner) have never been stronger. The production is also excellent, providing a perfect environment for Ragan’s raw style and creating a warm, full sound––I’m seriously excited to hear this one on vinyl. Highlights include the fiddlin’ frenzy of “Nomad by Fate,” a new version of “Valentine” (one of my favorite Chuck tracks) and the surprisingly hard-rocking “Meet You in the Middle.” Country punk still ain’t dead. –Ricky Vigil

Collections of Colonies of Bees
Giving LP
Hometapes
Street: 08.02
Collections of Colonies of Bees = Post rock – awesomness
Collections make upbeat, instrumental post rock, though their music is not as complex as one would expect from a band consisting of six members. This band lacks the darkness, intensity and pure musicianship which this genre is known for. On track two, “Vorm,” a gentle lead guitar snakes around a guitar loop while a simple beat keeps time. This continues building into a rhythmic chugging of guitars with a tinkling, shimmering lead. It makes me think of ants marching in a jungle or bees at work or some shit like that, which is fitting considering the name of the band. These guys get a bit long-winded—for example, the song “Lawns” doesn’t change at all for about 30 seconds straight. The last minute and a half of the song goes out strong, with some machine-gunned guitar and crashing cymbals, until it drops into a crescendo and then a beat with an oddly looped vocal. A Latin beat with guitar drones ringing out high notes ends the song. Collections has been around quite a while, but to me they sound like a baby band that needs to stretch their wings. –Tom Bennett

Come On Die Young
Self-Titled 7”
Man in Decline
Street: 06.17
Come On Die Young = Hot Water Music + Kid Dynamite + Look Back and Laugh
It would be easy, and unfair, to simply label Phoenix, Arizona’s Come On Die Young as “post-hardcore.” The truth is, “post-anything” is a ridiculous label for any band worth a shit, and Come On Die Young is definitely that and more. This four-song slab of vinyl is as hard as anything else going on in punk rock these days, but not gnarly enough to turn listeners away. Screamy vocals mix perfectly with well timed drumming and tasty riffs (yes, I just said “tasty riffs”). Even in the areas that the songs seem about ready to fall apart, they manage to stick together and explode back into perfect harmony. This is the sound of a band with their entire future in their hands, hungry to play exactly what they want to play, and triumphantly bombarding the listener with an excellent mix of punk and hardcore. One of the best things I’ve heard this year. –Gavin Hoffman

The Cool Kids
When Fish Ride Bicycles
Green Label Sound
Street: 07.12
The Cool Kids = Little Brother + Nottz + Kanye West
This record has been a few years in coming. The payoff was pretty big, though, and includes guest appearances by Ghostface Killah, Asher Roth, Travis Barker, Mayer Hawthorne, Pharrell Williams and more on eleven party-worthy tracks. The best songs are when the production varies from simple boom-bap like “GMC” or “Bundle Up” to more complex, sample-driven stuff on “Summer Jam” or the rap suite, “Roll Call.” The Chicago-based duo of Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks cover the normal topics: cars, clubs, girls, the high life, but with a lyrical fluidity and comfort of delivery that makes it feel old-school. These guys aren’t trying to win rap battles, impress you with tongue-twisters or make you ponder politics and injustice—they’re trying to make you dance. Crank this in a packed basement and watch the sweat pour down. –Rio Connelly

Dengue Fever
Cannibal Courtship
Fantasy
Street: 04.19
Concord Music Group
Dengue Fever = Bollywood + Budos Band + Tommy James & The Shondells
If this is a joke, then it’s a good one. It’s a gimmicky, respectable nod at 60s psychedelia with a firm root in lead singer Chhom Nimol’s Cambodian roots. It’s definitely over the top, but when she purrs “be my sacrificial lamb” in the opening track alongside the ba-ba-bas, you can’t help but pay attention. Half of the songs are in English, half are in Khmer, and a few have some wicked bilingual call-and-response. In “Only A Friend,” Nimol sings in Khmer, sounding like a siren tempting her sailor as guitarist/vocalist Zac Holtzman croons in response, “I’m overseas/Flirting with girls/And catching diseases.” The tight polyrhythms and distinct soul horn sections just tie it all together nice and neat, only to have it turn into a dirty garage feel. It’d be easy to laugh this off as kitsch, if it wasn’t done so damn well. –Mary Houdini

The Dips
Demo
Self-released
Street: 10.24.2010
The Dips = The Skeptix + The Partisans + Keith Morris-era Black Flag
Hailing from Santa Clarita, Calif., the Dips are keeping the spirit of UK82 alive with this demo. This six-song blitzkrieg shines with scratchy yet melodic vocals on top of anthemic power-chord progressions, such as in “Cool and Crisp.” Most of the release stays in the mid-tempo spectrum that 80s Oi! often employs, but “My Religion” speeds it up with a D-beat and a catchy, gang-vocal chorus, “My religion! Your religion!” followed by charmingly indiscernible, rhyming lines. “Grandma’s Dick” follows suit with speed and scathing lyrics, and “À la Cart” displays the Dips’ proclivity to hit a lot of fun finger-muting. Really, this album doesn’t bring anything new or highly innovative to the table as far as punk rock goes, but it’s good to see a legitimate revival of this style—I could foresee the use of Skeptix-influenced vocals becoming highly effective and fresh atop more creative instrumentation. –Alexander Ortega

Disappears
Guider
Kranky
Street: 01.18
Disappears = Can + Jesus and Mary Chain + Lou Reed singing for Sonic Youth
Woah … it’s like a senior thesis in post-punk. A glittering casserole of rambling indie rock touchstones. A delicious magic school-bus field trip through the sonic spectrum of leaden krautrock groove, psyche-haze sprawl and pop sheen, all weaned on fuzz riffs, delay loops, Gordon/Moore compositions (hell, Steve Shelley even plays on the album) and hypnotic rhythms. Brian Case alternates between Bernard Sumner-style yips (“Halo”), the robitussin murmur of Jim Reid (“New Fast”) and shamanic mewing (“Not Romantic”), while the band pulls out every gliding dream-pop stop, coalescing into the 15-minute album climax “Revisiting,” an orgiastic take on a single thrumming riff that blows itself out until it’s reached the outer limits of the icy stratosphere. Tago Mago bongwater gospel hypnosis. Bloody brilliant and certainly one of 2011’s best. –Dylan Chadwick

Diva
The Glitter End
Critical Heights
Street: 05.09
Diva = NYMPH + Enya
Diva has an unbelievably solid lock on the women-who-wear-extensive-glitter-makeup-and-have-bizzare-song-titles market. How’s “Jazzy Cats,” “Snake Dream” and “Crocodile Crawl” for you? Unfortunately, the aforementioned song about jazz cats is not really jazzy. The music is mainly what happens when mainly instrumental synthesized songs meet dreamy landscapes. The hodgepodge of almost discordant sounds and sketches of ideas make for some very trippy landscapes. This isn’t a bad album, but I should have been a lot more stoned while listening in order to make it more enjoyable. –JP

Enabler/Ambassador Gun
Split Cassette
Sacred Plague Records
Street: 06.14
Enabler = Weekend Nachos + All Pigs Must Die + Victims
Yours truly eats up stuff like this. Enabler is crust-core at its absolute finest, and this split cassette with Ambassador Gun is one of the most downright filthy things I’ve heard since Dystopia played at the Dojo 10 or so years ago. Discordant, down-tuned guitars punish the ears, while spastic drumming and vocals from the “Kill Them” wing at the insane asylum will no doubt ruin your party. This is short, to-the-point, go-fuck-yourself hardcore that is not for you or your older Hatebreed-loving brother. Ambassador Gun offers similar fare, but with a bit more Coalesce influence, especially vocally and riff-wise. Luckily, for all those out there who ditched their tape players in the early aughts, this trash-loving cassette is also available on 7” vinyl from the folks at Scenester Credentials. Get off the bandwagon and do yourself a favor by tracking this down. –Gavin Hoffman

The Glitch Mob
We Can Make the World Stop EP
Glass Air
Street: 07.12
The Glitch Mob = Justice + Muscle Hawk
It’s been a little over a year since the first Glitch Mob album, Drink the Sea, hit the streets and much has changed for the band. They’ve toured and received a killer response, and they’ve been working on music ever since. The titular track off their new EP opens with everything I loved about the last album: a sense of old electronic music with a dose of organic and a dash of glitch. It’s insanely hard not to move to, which makes it perfect to put on as the party is drawing down and the dawn is near—an energetic nightcap to meld a lowkey situation and high-energy ecstasy. As the case with most great EPs, this makes me want more. –JP

Grieves
Together/Apart
Rhymesayers
Street: 06.21
Grieves = Atmosphere + Sims + Gym Class Heroes
As an MC, Grieves has always had a way with words—even more than most. His lyrics are like densely packed prose, rarely if ever repetitive and his albums are long, an increasing rarity in the genre. While having leaned in this direction before, Together/Apart is basically a soul record, full of tinkling piano keys and smoky-sounding choruses that evoke a modern lounge singer. With his pierced lip, hoodie and baby-face, Grieves may not look like it, but the kid has felt some heartache. His sniper-rifle delivery acts like a confessional here, baring parts of his relationship-tormented life over tracks produced by longtime collaborator Budo. The best moments here are when the duo really fall into a groove and don’t shy away from producing melodic soul instead of just average hip hop. The whole record is consistently great, but some particularly good examples of this are the slow and pensive “Light Speed,” the lead single, “On the Rocks,” and my new favorite summer track, “Against the Bottom.” –Rio Connelly

Ghost Robot Ninja Bear
Self-titled
Self-released
Street: 04.12
Ghost Robot Ninja Bear = At the Drive-In + Sum 41
First and foremost, I want to point out that Ghost Robot Ninja Bear has to be one of the coolest band names ever and the artwork that comes along with this disc is equally as bad-ass. I have to say, when I saw the band name and the turquoise/yellow tree design, I was super stoked to give this album a listen. When I first put the album in, I was smacked right in my face with some pummeling straightforward power punk. As I listened through the album’s eight tracks, I was greeted again and again with dynamic and interesting songs. While I wish the band was a bit darker-sounding and a bit more progressive, you can’t hate on a band for walking right in and kicking someone in the pants. If you listen to the breakdown in track two, “Watching Me Watching You,” and you don’t get fired up, then you’re lame. –Jon Robertson

Halloween, Alaska
All Night the Calls Came In
Amble Down Records
Street: 08.30
Halloween, Alaska = Sting + Steely Dan
Where many bands these days are drawing on ‘80s New Wave and post-punk for inspiration, Halloween, Alaska take especially from the New Romantic side of things. Slow, synthy grooves bordering on soft rock comprise this disc, though it’s spiked with a helping of thumping drums (courtesy of Bad Plus drummer David King), sonic experimentation, and off-kilter Police-esque melodies. If not the most exciting release of the year, All Night the Calls Came In is sophisticated, smart, and worthy of repeated listening. –Nate Housley

Hooray for Earth
True Loves
Dovecote
Street: 06.07
Hooray for Earth = Abandoned Pools + Yeasayer
It’s been brewing for a while now, but is finally official: Brooklyn’s Hooray for Earth have hit their stride. From what I heard in their last EP, Momo, and the time I caught them at Kilby Court, this release is the awesome result of time and vision. The new sound is miles away from their previous droney/distorted proggish rock and now rests in a more comfortable, lyrically sound and more popularly resonant structure. The band has simultaneously incorporated a more bombastic, symphonic approach in singles like the title track and “Sails,” while maintaining their traditionally layered vocals. This album does what all great rock should do: it creates a mood and it transports the listener away and beyond this planet Earth. (Kilby Court: 10.14). –JP


Hospital Ships
Lonely Twin
Graveface
Street: 06.07
Hospital Ships = Races + Islands
This is Jordan Geiger’s second Hospital Ships album after being part of both Appleseed Cast and Shearwater, and his tenure is pretty evident in this minimalistic Flaming Lips-esque album. His extremely familiar-sounding voice makes this release seem like an extremely new and relevant Unicorns release. All of the songs seem to building up to a chaotic point, and although the album rarely reaches chaos, you will be on the edge of your seat waiting for it. The album is like remastered nostalgia for the indie bands of the late 90s and early double aughts; it will definitely keep you interested. –Cody Hudson

Hot Graves
Desecration Time
Greyhaze
Street: 07.19
Hot Graves = Celtic Frost + Venom + Amebix + Onslaught
Three cuts of blistering lo-fi D-filtered thrash, blackened to its bleeding gills with an Anti-Cimex cover and playing out like an unholy history lesson in late ‘80s European blasphemy, Desecration Time is an EP that gives mean metal fans exactly what their teeny-tiny hearts covetously crave. Here are Norelco razor guitars atop proto-death-growling (think Tom G. Warrior and John Tardy gargling kitty litter and engaging in a belching contest) and octopus-armed drumming à la classic Darkthrone … And the band’s never afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves (note the sinewy Floridian death leads of the title track). Nothing new, but played to riotous perfection, an acrid combination of misty-mountain Satanix and full-throttle party heartiness, all geared up for their forthcoming release, Knights in White Phosphorous. Awesome. –Dylan Chadwick

Hot Water Music
The Fire, The Steel, The Tread
Self-Released
Street: 08.02
Hot Water Music = The Gaslight Anthem + Chuck Ragan + The Draft
Fans have been lucky enough to get an excellent B-side collection, a series of live 7”s and a split of covers with The Bouncing Souls since Hot Water Music’s breakup in 2005, but this 7” is the first original material they’ve recorded in seven years. Did your pants just get tighter? Yeah, mine did, too. The title track is a re-worked version of an unreleased Chuck Ragan solo track, and it sounds like you would expect in exactly the best ways. Ragan’s rootsy approach is instantly roughened up by the presence of his HWM band mates, giving the track plenty of weight that perfectly complements his harsh, husky vocals. “Adds Up to Nothing” is the B-side sung by Chris Wollard continuing the sound of the last HWM album and the band’s side project, The Draft. The song is strong if very straightforward, but longtime fans will be too excited by its very existence to be disappointed. If you’re a fan, this is a no-brainer. If you’re not a fan, you’re wrong. –Ricky Vigil

ICS Vortex
Storm Seeker
Century Media
Street: 08.23
ICS Vortex = Borknagar + Arcturus + Lamented Souls
This is the strongest album Century Media has released in quite some time. Chances are you know ICS Vortex, who did time in Dimmu Borgir, Borknagar, Arcturus and Lamented Souls. While similarities to the latter three bands do peek into Storm Seeker, the album manages to sound  unique from the metallic entities that ICS Vortex made such an impact in. The tonality of the entire album laughs at the notion that the “E” chord must be the driving force in metal. The man’s vocals, similar to Garm of Ulver fame, ring in at high levels, drenched in range and diversity but not relying on falsettos or really many established vocal styles—it’s one of the strongest portions of making ICS Vortex stand out. There’s a massive amount of guitar work to scratch your noggin too—some easily accessible and catchy while some take many listens to fully comprehend. This is not an album that is going to instantaneously make listeners go gaga on first listen. Storm Seeker is something for those willing to actually listen and eager to find something unexpected in its own realm. –Bryer Wharton

Impatience
Never Any Peace Cassette
Sacred Plague Records
Street: 06.09
Impatience = See You in Hell + Integrity + Trap Them
Doom metal experienced a resurgence. Thrash metal made a comeback. Black metal became trendy. So what is the next genre to explode? Naturally, it’s the Tragedy-worshiping, haven’t-bathed-in-a-month gnarliness of D-beat/crust/ hardcore (not that there’s anything wrong with that)—and that’s where Impatience lies. While bands like Trap Them and Pulling Teeth have garnered the majority of the attention lately, there are a ton more worthwhile bands around … Bands who don’t have the backing of large indie labels and the Scion Rock Fest, and Impatience is a perfect example. This is brutal, not-fucking-around Milwaukee hardcore that grips the listener’s throat and lines their face with screaming-induced spittle. The fact that it’s currently a cassette-only release may be a detriment to the band, but those hipster kids who dine on magnetic tape and vinyl should track this thing down, because it’s worth far more than a dumpster dive. –Gavin Hoffman

Junior Boys
It’s All True
Domino
Street: 06.14
Junior Boys = Chromeo + Friendly Fires + George Michaels + leather and mustaches
This album focuses on solid old-school jams that indie kids will still dig on, which actually is a breath of fresh air. You probably won’t be hearing “dubstep remixes” of any of these tracks, thank fucking God. The tracks are quite long for electro pop, but I wasn’t bothered ‘cause they were all so fun. Lyrically, it’s evident that these boys are becoming men, dealing with the displacement of leaving the wild 20s behind and noticing you have changed when your friends have not—but you can still out-dance them, on the rare occasion you go out. The strongest track is album ender “Banana Ripple,” a bouncy indie electro/disco pop jam with a time-tested four-on-the-floor beat and tambourine hops under the trademark, breathy vocals. As the song builds for the last verse, layered, incoherent vocals wash over the track as a synth crescendos in the back, and an organ and guitar bring it all together for the fade-out. Junior Boys have created a fabulous soundtrack to an all-tranny BBQ swim party—very gay, in a very good way. –Tom Bennett

Kindest Lines
Covered in Dust
Wierd
Street: 06.15
Kindest Lines = Jesus and Mary Chain x (Edera + Sunshine Blind) x Autumn
The beautiful darkwave pop presented by this New Orleans trio is the sort of music I thought was never going to be made again. Vocalist Brittany Terry draws you in with her unadorned and straightforward, clear-voiced delivery over sumptuous keyboards and stoic programmed drums by Justin Blaire Vial and organic, ringing ‘90s guitars by Jack Champagne. Poppy tracks like “Prom Song” and “Running into Next Year” inspire comparisons to ‘60s girl bands and cool ‘80s new wave dance classics, while more somber tracks, such as “Hazy Haze” and “Destructive Paths to Live Happily,” invoke dying leaves falling from a tree or equally fraught and mournful imagery. While the sound is a throwback or at least an homage to other eras, and the production is a bit heavy-handed, the classic gothic rock sound is gorgeous, evocative and utterly charming. Dig out your long swishy black skirts, boys and girls, and play this loud in the living room while you swirl and emote. –Madelyn Boudreaux

Lydia Loveless
Indestructible Machine
Bloodshot
Street: 09.13
Lydia Loveless = Miss Derringer + Eddie Spaghetti + Short Stack + Loretta Lynn
Country music needs someone like Lydia Loveless: a hard-charging country girl that’s as apt to play a Dead Boys cover as she is to play a George Jones cover. This Ohio girl grew up in her father’s country bar surrounded by traveling musicians, so it almost seems prophesied that she’d one day become a bad-ass country-picker herself. There are no punches pulled on this record—Lydia blasts through each track with enchanting, powerful vocals, and a versatile backing band that hits hard as hell one minute, and soothes just as softly the next. The honky-tonk rocker, “Jesus Was a Wino,” with galloping slap bass and frenzied guitar work, stands out on a record where each tune is well crafted and well played. Country music needs to come around to the artists like Lydia, who are vastly more interesting than the typically vapid stars that are held up within the genre. –James Orme

Mad Anthony
… I Spent All My Money on Speed Metal
Phratry Records
Street: 08.24.10
Mad Anthony = Butthole Surfers + The Conformists
I’m not gonna lie, when I first heard Mad Anthony’s lead-singer Ringo Jones’ voice, I started laughing a little bit. This guy’s voice threw me off. It’s like a mix of Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Caleb Followill’s from Kings of Leon with a pinch of Chris Farley. But after a few listens through the album, I like it quite a bit. Jones’ strange voice adds an interesting element to the bands’ thick and heavy garage rock. Every song on this album is different from the next, and the guitar work and rhythms are exceptional; it’s something you don’t often hear from bands that take a little pride in sounding sloppy. Even when the band’s music wanders onto the beaten path, the vocals howl in and your ears are taken into brand-new territory. If you want to hear something new with a touch of the familiar, go spend all your money on speed metal, too. –Jon Robertson

Metronomy
The English Riviera
Big Beat
Street: 07.26
Metronomy = Air + Phoenix + Fleetwood Mac
Following the release of 2008’s Nights Out, Metronomy lost one member, gained two more members, and dropped their nu-rave electro-pop identity for ear-expanding, sun-kissed ‘70s electro-prog-rock. Put on your favorite flip-flops, Joseph Mount is about to take us to The English Riviera and his hometown of Totnes, Devon. The album briefly greets you with a hundred squawking seagulls soaring seaside, then “We Broke Free” quickly steps in with a sexy bass line and swelling synths. The breathtaking vocals of Roxanne Clifford (Veronica Falls) will jumpstart your heart on the Latin guitar-driven “Everything Goes My Way.” The standout is the dark and twisted, Roxy Music-tinged “She Wants,” while “The Bay” sounds more like it belongs on the predecessor to this album. Sit back, get yourself a piña colada and spend the final days of summer with these well-crafted, romantic, breezy soundscapes.
 –Courtney Blair

Milagres
Glowing Mouth
Kill Rock Stars
Street: 09.13
Milagres = Foals + Son Lux + Grizzly Bear
If you’re looking for some new, slow-burning indie rock for drinking wine in your friend’s apartment, your search is over. Milagres sounds a lot like sweaty summer nights, with a moody easiness that Brooklyn-based bands are ace at executing. Their debut album, Glowing Mouth, starts with synth-heavy “Halfway,” with hazy, sexy layering and a beautiful falsetto that doesn’t seem forced at all. “Here to Stay,” the next song on the album, sounds a little like Vampire Weekend, with its catchy hooks and summertime feel. The title track at times sounds almost exactly like Son Lux––all haunted hallways and dance floors. This album has such a variety in sound, but it’s not all over the place. “Fright of Thee” has a sound not so unlike The Bravery’s first album, and if they were still playing music more like that, I’d bet that this is the sound they’d be going for. There isn’t a bad song on the album, but the first half sounds more thought out, while the second half is a bit more erratic. Still, it’s a good listen, and this is a band I’m excited to hear more from in the future. –Kyla G.

Moonface
Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped
Jagjaguwar
Street: 08.02
Moonface = Sunset Rubdown + Handsome Furs
This EP is Spencer Krug’s (of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown) attempt at making a Handsome Furs album (Dan Boeckner’s Wolf Parade side project). However, it comes off more like an insincere Casiotone for the Painfully Alone EP or a random grouping of early Clap Your Hands Say Yeah B-Sides. I really wanted to like this EP, because of my love of all other things Spencer Krug, but that odd-sounding fuck made it pretty tough. Each song has an extremely simple, pulsating beat, divided by lame hooks and punctuated by his attempt at art (there is a reason CFTPA never made jam band music). –Cody Hudson

Morbus Chron
Sleepers in the Rift
Pulverised
Street: 08.30
Morbus Chron = Entombed (classic) + Asphyx + Autopsy
Sleepers in the Rift is quite the anthem to raise the dead—a purely and greatly executed Swedish death-metal album well worth adding to any metal fiend’s collection. There’s quite a few old-school Swedish death metal-influenced bands popping up constantly—it’s not surprising. Morbus Chron are far from old school—the five-piece band from the Stockholm area are fairly new. Influences do shine through on the album’s nine bits of brain-eating, flesh-tearing mayhem. Morbus Chron delivers the goods with a tasty variety of sounds from speedy thrashing to grizzly, distorted, blistering death-metal grooves to doom dirges. The vocal approach is less guttural regurgitation and more punk/hardcore, which the drumming approach also follows (don’t expect too many blastbeats here). Oh, and the cover art simply destroys. –Bryer Wharton

Mournful Congregation
The Unspoken Hymns
20 Buck Spin
Street: 09.20
Mournful Congregation = Evoken + Skepticism + Asunder
Mournful Congregation and 20 Buck Spin are releasing this compilation of rare tracks. The release serves as a semi-introduction to the Australian funeral doom act’s upcoming full-length, The Book of Kings, to be released in November. The band’s been serving up these dreary and soul-sucking tunes for nearly 18 years now. Funeral doom is a hard genre to stand out in, let alone be really one of the more accessible metal sub genres—listeners require variances of patience to let songs develop. Instead of hanging onto some catchy riff or chorus, funeral doom is about the emotions pushed forth. The fortitude of this compilation is it highlights different styles the band encompasses—tracks aren’t meant to flow, but be their own entity. Mournful Congregation do well at putting simple but somber melodies next to unholy life-draining guitars and sloth-growling vocals. At the very least, the comp serves as a great intro to a band many (even genre fiends) may not have heard of. Punish yourself—you know you want to. –Bryer Wharton

Moving Mountains
Waves
Triple Crown Records
Street: 05.10
Moving Mountains = Cave In + Taking Back Sunday + Angels and Airwaves
The opening track from Moving Mountains’ latest album, My Life Is Like A Chase Dream is so epic and powerful that you feel like you might have just heard one of the best Thrice songs of all time. Then immediately after the first song ends, you’re dropped from the heaven of musical bliss right on your face into the tiny mosh pit in front of one of the side stages at the Warped Tour. The other nine songs are power emo from about five years ago and the band loses all originality and starts pandering toward the heart stings of all the lost and confused junior high kids. This is a huge disappointment because that opening track is easily one of the coolest heavy rock songs I have heard in quite some time. These guys need to quit trying to make people cry and instead concentrate on just rocking out. –Jon Robertson

Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5
Delirium Tremendous
Chicken Ranch Records
Street: 07.26
Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 = an Alice Cooper orchestra
Like a pack of jazz gypsies, Mr Lewis and the Funeral 5 sound like a backstreet in a Romanian neighborhood in NYC, or at least what I would hope it would sound like. Defiantly unique horns, strings and a drunken choir sound like they are egging a madman into a murder. I could see belly dancers holding human heads smoking crack on a beach surrounded in trash ... or maybe I shouldn't smoke weed before I write a review. Extremely panned stereo vocals give the album an effect of listening in a room next to a live show––where you probably should be, and hiding. The album comes on like a reeling drunk, but by track three, “Heavy Bags in Tow,” the band calms it down a bit, yet still remain interesting. If you were a fan of The Murder City Devils, but can also get into a musical every now and again, you’ll probably like these guys. –Tom Bennett

Oathbreaker
Mælstrøm
Deathwish Inc.
Street: 07.05
Oathbreaker = Rise and Fall + mid-period Integrity + Converge + From Ashes Rise
Aptly titled and bursting at blackened seams with vitriolic furor, Mælstrøm is a metallic hardcore hybrid, tailor-made for the raucous ranks of the Deathwish family. Cultivated around simple, doom-laden hardcore riffs and the larynx ulceration of vocalist Caro, it’s a caustic mishmash of genre influences, channeling the efforts of Shipwreck or Belgian country-mates Rise and Fall. “Fate is High” makes simultaneous nods to Systems Overload-era Integrity, Mayhem and the H8000 ’core from Europe’s battleground. “Sink into Sin II” rakes itself over the acerbic coals of a circuitous mid-paced riff, fully utilizing the barbed punch of Kurt Ballou’s production, and the guitar work on “Thoth” and “Black Sun” is stunning. This is a searing crossbreed of nihilistic bombast and mournful sonic self-immolation, whose only hiccup might be the lopsidedness in having its title track (an odd Cat Power-ish acoustic number) placed abruptly at the end. Another fine Deathwish product. –Dylan Chadwick

ohGr
unDeveloped
Metropolis Records
Street: 05.10
ohGr = Skinny Puppy + Cyberaktif + Rx
Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with ohGr, the “side project” of, well, Nivek Ogre (Kevin Ogilvie), the lyrical terrorist for industrial pioneers Skinny Puppy. The ohGr project has always seemed like somewhat of an enigmatic outlet for the vocalist, seeing as his best work has always come via the Puppy, but his solo output has always been solid without sounding like Puppy throwaways or b-sides, and unDeveloped is no exception. Purportedly, the track “crash” is about the death of Michael Jackson, even going so far as to include the actual 911 call requesting paramedics to Jackson’s aid, but aside from that, the album is standard, although fresh, Ogre: lyrically focusing on political, personal and world issues. Long-time collaborator Mark Walk continues to show his programming, layering, and arranging skills, and the release is captivating from start to finish. That being said, move along, folks—there is nothing to dance to here.  –Gavin Hoffman

Paleo
Fruit of the Spirit
Partisan Records
Street: 06.21
Paleo = Seu Jorge + Violent Femmes vocals
I love the fact that Paleo took the time and made the effort to include their song lyrics with this album. There is nothing better than actually being able to find out what the fuck someone means, or at least to make an interpretation of it. It’s nice indie folk––track one, “Lighthouse,” makes me think of The Life Aquatic or something like that. Steel drums inhabit the background and there are tons of ocean and sailing references. Spoken/sung vocals bring images of a bum hanging around the docks in a coastal town. The album has the feel of a live performance––it was recorded by David Strackany himself, who is the man behind Paleo. Fruit of the Spirit has a sense of drunken sadness, as if the artist has tried to drink himself happy, but failed and ended up with a laughable sadness. In standout track “The Rager,” Strackany damns his “wandering eyes” as if they have kept him from love and contentment. “Favorite Places” almost made me cry. It hits home in a way anyone who has ever loved someone desperately can relate to. He describes a home where he must “sweep all the glass from the floor,” alluding to a chaos he must live with. Strackany once wrote 365 songs in 365 days, and he describes his endeavor as “life altering” and “a constant catharsis.” Listening to him makes me think I need a journey of my own. I’m getting the fuck out of here, maybe taking Fruit of the Spirit with me. –Tom Bennett

Paley & Francis
Self-Titled
Unyon
Street: 09.13
Paley & Francis = The Five + Black Francis + The Catholics
This 10-song album re-unites Pixies frontman Frank Black (formerly and again known as Black Francis) with frequent collaborator Reid Paley. Paley was a founding member of the Pittsburgh-based post-punk hellish-blues band The Five before forming his own trio in the late 1990s. The pair has written numerous songs together, several of which appeared on Black’s albums Honeycomb and Fast Man Raider Man. This is their first full-length collaboration. The album was recorded over two days in Nashville, and every song was captured on the first take. About half of the songs feature Black’s signature lead vocal, with Paley doing harmony. The other half reverse the formula and feature the gravelly, bluesy Elvis/Merle Haggard-hybrid lead vocal that is Reid Paley’s bread and butter. Also present on the tracks are veteran session musicians David Hood (bass) and Spooner Oldham (piano). The overall vibe of the record is definitely Nashville, but in the classic shoot-a-man-in-the-street kind of way. It feels a lot like early Frank Black solo material, but with the rushed, unpolished sound you may remember from the classic Bob Dylan albums Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. In all, this is a great record from two musicians that sound like they’ve always played together. –James Bennett

Protest The Hero
Scurrilous
Vagrant Records
Street: 03.22
Protest The Hero = The Human Abstract + Dillinger Escape Plan - the calories
Protest The Hero came out swinging with their first release, Kezia, in 2005, and have since raised the bar for melodic prog-metal to extraordinary heights. They continue that legacy with third album Scurrilous, a ridiculously addicting ride through acrobatic guitar-work, theatrical vocals and unpredictable beats. First single, “C’est La Vie,” is an upbeat, galloping song with an ominous feel flowing underneath and energy to spare; this is one of only three songs lyrically penned by bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi, and you can hear the difference between his widely poetic words and vocalist Rody Walker’s more personal, even sarcastic perspective, though both are equally entertaining. Their music is as tight and technically superior as ever; in particular, the bridge of “Moonlight,” with its fret-crawling, stuttering rhythm, leaves a huge impression on the listener. Walker does a lot less screaming/growling here, showcasing instead his unique and moving clean vocals that beg you to sing along. Drummer Moe Carlson has outdone himself, and writes some of the most creative fills in the business. While it’s more strengthening of position than establishing new progression, Scurrilous will still dig under your skin—and good luck getting it out. –Megan Kennedy

Razika
Program 91
Smalltown Supersound
Street: 08.23
Razika = The Specials + Raincoats + Camera Obscura
The four gals that make up the jangly-bubblegum Norwegian group Razika met at the age of 6 and began playing music at 14 after exploring their parents’ punk and reggae records. Their name is taking from a code word they created to describe a cute boy. At the age of 19, they are releasing their debut record, Program 91. The record shows four girls creating their own warmth in the far North with sparkling charm and nostalgia, drawing influence from C86 pop, ska and Phil Spector. Half of the songs are in English, while the rest are in their native Norwegian—don’t worry, you won’t even notice the language difference while riding on this sugar high. This candy is finely crafted two-tone twee sweetness. –Courtney Blair

Severe Severe
Break Up The Dance
Bad Archer Records
Street: 06.07
Severe Severe = Bauhaus + The Cure + Joy Division
Making an attempt at Robert Smith vocals, with a Joy Division-sense of alienation and disassociation, Severe Severe presents Break Up The Dance. Firstly, something doesn’t feel quite genuine ... There is something missing that I can’t put my finger on. The album is a huge attempt at the artsy goth punk mastered by Bauhaus, Love And Rockets and the like. Severe Severe fall short, however. “Reflections Of White” builds into a state of panic and chaos that is intense and engaging at times. “Semblance” begins with a reverbed guitar and pounding drums, which grab my attention right away, but it is a bit overly dramatic with lyrics such as “I stand before you in tears.” This is an album that has the potential to grow on you with time, though the first listen is not particularly powerful. The album gets better through the tracks. It should have been put together in a different order, perhaps. I would like to see more variation between the songs—they are difficult to remember and lack dynamic. Goths might really like this recording, but the jaguar album cover screams hipster. I say go black, boys, and embrace your dark side. –Tom Bennett

The Shirks
Cry Cry Cry
Grave Mistake
Street: 04.22
The Shirks = The Damned + Bass Drum of Death + Jay Reatard + The Estranged
The Shirks combine quickly paced 70s and garage punk that will get you convulsing like a teenage ’77 dance ’tard. Some of the buzz going around with Cry Cry Cry is that these three tracks don’t vary much from each other in style or tempo, but I say, “Fuck that.” Even though that assessment is basically true and garage-styled rock is what’s cool right now, this little 7” is fun as hell and made for a living room dance party. The title track opens with a bouncy rock beat on the floor tom that explodes with crash-cymbal energy, which underpins the main lyrical phrase: “Nobody’s gonna love you like me.” “On Time” looks back to the days of The Briefs, with a sped-up ’77 approach and spastic chord changes. “Prostitution Summer” has the catchiest riffs and best overall composition of the EP, which encompasses The Shirks’ nonchalant take on pumping out punk. –Alexander Ortega

Tomorrows Tulips
Eternally Teenage
Galaxia
Street: 07.18
Tomorrows Tulips = The Japanese Motors + Fresh and Onlys
This album contains pretty little pop songs in a thrashed, fuzzy package. None of the songs are complicated, but that is nothing to hold against it; the driving beats make up for the simple chord progressions. Started by Alex Knost and his significant other, Christina Keyes, after things went South with Knost’s previous band, The Japanese Motors, the band’s alternating male/female vocals are reminiscent of The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In by Thee Oh Sees, although it never reaches that level of aggression. This exercise in simplicity will make it the perfect addition to your summer playlist, alongside all of the other sunny California garage albums. –Cody Hudson

United Sons of Toil
When the Revolution Comes, Everything Will be Beautiful
Sacred Plague Records/Phartry Records
Street: 06.14
United Sons of Toil = Helms Alee + Drive Like Jehu + Young Widows
See, mathy, semi-noisy Dischord-esque hardcore has never really done much for me. It lacks immediacy and urgency, which, I’m sure, is the point, and seeing as how I am a very impatient person by nature, I’ve always had problems getting into stuff like that. United Sons of Toil are very much in that vein (think Dischord/mid-90s Touch and Go), but, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, don’t bore me to tears. Sure, it’s relatively slow and seems to lack any real direction, but this slab of vinyl is actually something I’ve subconsciously continued replaying since receiving it. Whether that means it’s a “grower” or not is still open for debate. What is not open for debate is that this is a damned fine release by a damned fine band. Stop-on-a-dime changes and well-executed, well-written riffs combine with sing-along lyrics and drums that sit back perfectly in the mix. Sacred plague goes three-for-three this time around. –Gavin Hoffman

The United Sons of Toil
When the Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful
Sacred Plague Records/Phartry Records
Street: 06.14
The United Sons of Toil = Shellac + Rage Against The Machine + Young Widows
You know that bad habit that you just can’t kick and you constantly find yourself behind the dumpster to smoke some crack, light up a cigarette or bite your nails? My bad habit that I just can’t get rid of is falling in love with post-punk and math-rock bands. Every time I discover a new band, I always find myself at the tattoo shop getting their name inscribed on my lower back. Well, my most recent tramp stamp is The Sons of Toil. This Wisconsin power trio is all full of angst, odd time signatures and raw tones that any fan of The Jesus Lizard would definitely be able to fall in love with. But one difference about this band is that their lyrics are all bitchy towards the local Wisconsin government. Distaste for government is always a good quality one looks for in a new crush. These guys are pissed, creative and brawny. I just can’t resist. –Jon Robertson

Ursula 1000
Mondo Beyondo
ESL Music
Street: 08.16
Ursula 1000 = James Bond + Acid + Boyz Noize
When first escaping to the land that is Ursula 1000, I couldn’t help but ponder to myself why I wasn’t in bellbottoms or some sort of far-out outfit, discoing the night away. Huge on the ‘70s vibe, this album took me on a magic carpet ride to a place where platforms, mirrored tabletops and John Travolta reigned supreme. Currently on tour promoting his new album, Brooklyn’s own DJ veteran Alex Gimeno, aka Ursula 1000, has been in the electronic scene since the ‘90s, supplying him with an affluence of styles and skills, which are incredibly apparent on Mondo Beyondo. From the guitars to the drum programming to the synthesizers, Ursula 1000 does it all, showing his undeniable talent as a producer and a musician. With its feel-good lyrics, funky drums and synths with attitude, Mondo Beyondo had me dancing nonstop. Whether I was doing the funky chicken or just a simple dip and dive, I couldn’t help but move. My favorite song on the album has to be “Stinger”—it hypnotized me and made me believe I was at Venice Beach playing volleyball, surfing and dancing around a fire—it was a short but sweet montage of epic proportions. I absolutely love this album and definitely suggest that everyone get a copy. It’s now part of my summer soundtrack, and it should be part of yours, too. –Mama Beatz

War Hungry
Self-Titled
Six Feet Under
Street: 07.30
War Hungry = Danzig + Far Beyond Driven-era Pantera – Phil Anselmo + Scott Weiland
Holy diver! The fabled War Hungry album! Only four years in the making! The pinnacle release after a storied career (since what, ’04?) of sporadic cassettes, splits, EPs and comp tracks … but damn, was it worth the wait. Featuring their best guitar work (check the end of “Mercy Seat,” will ya?) and building on that brooding groove they started jamming on Return to Earth, Hoodrack gives his finest vocal performance yet, alternating between sinister crooning (check “Shift”) and a rumbling bellow, culled from the deepest bowels of the ninth circle of Wilkes Barre. All cylinders firing, not a single throwaway number (even the reworked cuts from the Bad Seed split sound new) and the chops are tight. Mosh, bang your head or clear a frickin’ bowl. It all works here … Just pray to whatever God you hold dear that we won’t have to wait four more years for another record. –Dylan Chadwick