National Music Reviews

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Acid Witch
Witchtanic Hellucinations
Hell’s Headbangers
Street: 10.23
Acid Witch = Witchfinder General + Autopsy + Motorhead
Don’t let the “equation” fool you—just because Acid Witch is laced with influence from the bands listed therein doesn’t mean they’re anywhere near as good. Oh, sure, there are enough heavy riffs and “evil vokills” on Witchtanic Hellucinations for the metal masses to shoot their collective wads to, but the schtick is wearing a bit thin, even though this is a re-release of this album which was originally unleashed in 2008. Plodding drums, down-tuned guitars, and the occasional synth peeking through can’t hide the fact that this release is nothing more than a passable attempt at over-the-top stoner doom, which—let’s face it—is getting just a wee bit old. It’s not all bad, it’s just nothing that I’ll be listening to in the future. Ever. –Gavin Hoffman

Aimee Mann
Charmer
SuperEgo Records
Street: 09.18
Aimee Mann = Elvis Costello + Suzanne Vega + Squeeze
“When you’re a charmer, the apples fall,” sings Mann on her aptly named—not to mention quite welcome—new album. Her songwriting, the production and a slightly upbeat delivery make this one of her poppiest-sounding efforts. But fear not, friends, her lyrics remain rooted in the real world’s inhabitants, and her clever way of looking at the ordinary is fully intact, especially on the pretty “Disappeared” and “Labrador.” Like these gems, “Soon Enough,” “Crazy Town” and especially “Red Flag Diver” have splendidly catchy choruses, until you realize how serious their subjects are. “Living A Lie” is a gorgeous duet with The Shins’ James Mercer and while there are a few ballads here (“Barfly” and “Slip and Roll”), it’s mostly upbeat. Even when Mann’s urging the loser in “Gumby” to call his estranged daughter, you’ll be tapping your foot in time. –Dean O Hillis

Andre Williams
Life
Alive
Street: 10.02
Andre Williams = Barry White + Ike Turner + the Five Du-Tones
As I’ve been able to say several times over this past year: For an elderly former junkie, Andre Williams sure is prolific—this is his fourth album to come out since January. This is also his fourth backup band. Once I started to listen, my mind kept going back to the difficult question of whether or not we really needed another Andre Williams record in 2012. A few songs in, though, and it was clear that this one was quirky enough to merit its own release. The first song to really stick out is “Blame it on Obama”—a treatise aimed at naysayers that try to lay every misstep in their personal lives on the current president. The song is certainly timely, but it lacks some of what Williams is known for. He redeems himself with a pair of love songs, “Stuck in the Middle” and “It’s Only You that I Love,” both of which feel like they’re aimed straight at your heart. The best song on the whole disc, though, is his take on the old R&B standard “Shake a Tail Feather.” This is a song that Williams wrote decades ago (made famous by Tina Turner), and I believe this is his first stab at making it his own. And, man, does he nail it! One more notch in the bedpost for modern soul’s sexiest crooner. –James Bennett

Bob Dylan
Tempest
Columbia Records
Street: 09.12
Bob Dylan = Robert Zimmerman + Jack Frost
By the time of this publication, most Dylan fans will have listened, analyzed, and heard what others are raving about on his latest, Tempest. In the case of a fan who hasn’t yet given this album a listen, you’re likely not going to be disappointed. An album of this caliber is the kind of folk that I find quintessential of Dylan, with an emphasis on his words filled with allusions to pop culture. His lyrical tales and poetic verse are laden with themes of death and passing, especially felt in the album’s conclusion, “Roll on John,” Bob’s got a long road behind him, and “Long and Wasted Years” comes across as a tribute to the desolate journey he continues to wander. –Brinley Froelich

Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits
Bone Dagger b/w Take On The World 7”
Suckerpunch Records
Street: 09.04
Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits = Arlo Guthrie + Steve Martin + Ronnie James Dio
It still baffles me how these guys haven’t caught on here in our fair city of salt. Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits write some of the most catchy, fun and rockin’ music that I’ve heard in almost two decades, and they do so strictly in the name of fun. This awesome, albeit short, release courtesy of Suckerpunch Records highlights one of the band’s most excellent songs to date, which tells the story of a hero who finds a dagger (made of bone, duh) with mythical powers, and who, in turn, does everything from slaying a dragon to kissing a goat. I don’t think any more needs to be said other than you should pick this fucking thing up, like, right now. Oh, yeah—the B-side is a sweet-ass cover of a Judas Priest song. –Gavin Hoffman

Boys Noize
Out of the Black
Boysnoize Records
Street: 10.16
Boys Noize = (2007) Justice + Crookers + Deadmau5
There must be something in the water in Germany, because music like this just isn’t coming out of the States currently. Opening track “What You Want” immediately sets the mood for the rest of the album: bossy, in charge and unapologetic, just like Oprah. With its bouncy but disgruntled synths on top of a smooth drum beat, the track made me do the Bee Gees’ shuffle all over SLC. Another track I couldn’t help but get down on was ”Missile.” In the beginning, this clave-sounding sample smacks you into attention, then these robotic, militant synth melodies come into play, taking the whole track to the next level—it’s produced beautifully!  My favorite song, “I’ll House You,” shows the house side of Boys Noize, starting off like the original track by the Jungle Brothers, but with Snoop Dogg’s voice instead. Out of the Black is seriously an album for any music lover, and a must-have for anyone who listens to electronic music!  –Mama Beatz

Brother Ali
Mourning in America, Dreaming in Color
Rhymesayers
Street: 09.18
Brother Ali = Common Market + Immortal Technique
Mourning in America begins with a gritty bass-line, paired with a heartfelt shout-out to the American populace to get off their skeptical asses and provide productive changes to better their communities by standing up to blind oppression and injustice. “Letter to My Countrymen,” as well as the rest of the album, provides a biting portrayal of the blatant mess we find ourselves in today in the United States. Subjects ranging from paying the bills and the struggles of raising a family, to the consequences of war are sprinkled throughout old school, funk/soul inspired back-beats. A spiritual epiphany in Mecca inspired a new outlook in Ali, which he portrays with a personal and genuine tone without feeling sententious. Ali’s flow goes balls to the wall. He half spits and half sings relevant, starkly political sentiments. As his fourth release, Mourning in America plays hopeful and mature while still keeping the twisted style from The Undisputed Truth intact. –LeAundra Jeffs

Correatown
Pleiades
Highline Records
Street: 10.16
Correatown = Portishead + Blonde Redhead + Coldplay
Smooth, delicious, drive-along-a-dusty-road melodies, a buttery voice, and simple, unobtrusive lyrics define this ambient electro-pop album. Angela Correa has created a beautiful collection of work here, flirting among several genres, including pop, folk, Americana and, most expansively, electronic ambient. Material from the project’s previous four full-length albums and two EPs has already appeared on several mainstream television shows and movies, and I’m sure we’ll hear some of these new easy-listen tracks setting the mood on many more shows in the future as well. “Further,” the album’s lead single, is a fairly straightforward electronic ambient song, moody yet hopeful, and will probably get into your psyche via one of these routes (commercial, TV show, etc.) before you download it, but I’m telling you, go ahead and throw it in the mix already. Pleiades is a first-rate release, with great material, great performances and instrumentation, great production, and a clearly defined brand—worth a listen for sure. –Ischa B.

Devereaux
Cacti Pace
MMM
Street Date: 10.02
Devereaux = The Twilight Soundtrack + La Roux
I wasn’t taken away with Devereaux’s Cacti Pace EP from the beginning. The first track, “Perestroika” was way too poppy for my taste, but Devereaux is an experimental pop band, so it makes sense. The second track, “Capri,” wasn’t really good for me until the robot voices came in. They made the track sound like something that belonged on the Drive soundtrack—its slow tempos and fun melody made me smile. “Nyxt” had my attention with its screaming lyrics and dark undertone, but its screamo characteristics and Goth-like tendencies did not meet my fancy.  The next track, “Sassafras,” was pretty awesome. It was as if the song was telling me off with fun lyrics and funky breaks that made me enjoy this song so much, I put it on repeat! The last song on Cacti Pace,  “Espejo,” sounds like someone took country music and beat it with a Spanish guitar—in a good way. The fast but steady drums reminded me of square dancing and the guitar and synth sounded like a Spanish ska band. The five track EP is very well produced and tells a story with each track. Though the album itself isn’t for me, there are still a few gems I pulled away, so it’s something I would recommend to any friend who digs pop. –Mama Beatz

D.I.S.
Becoming Wrath
Deep Six
Street: 11.01
D.I.S. = Discharge + Entombed + Heresy
If this is Becoming Wrath, I’m pretty afraid of what wrath actually is. Don’t add any doilies under your teacups for this one—frills, twists or tinkering will not be found here. I have to say this makes the new Napalm Death seem subdued. The main guitar tone is nasty, but not too tuned out to sound like a bad Dismember album. There’s definitely a more hardcore than metal vibe here—that is, until the guitar solos chime in like a fat guy at an anorexic convention. A vinyl or cassette version may be extra tasty as well. So strap on some clean undies and get ready to have your ass kicked into next week, because this is some blissful noise not quite dished out by any other folks this year. –Bryer Wharton

Diva
Moon Moods
Critical Heights
Street: 10.09
Diva = Phil Collins + Bjork + Star Wars
Electro-beats, xylophone-like effects and a slightly wavering but lovely voice begin the album on “Wanna Get To Know You,” and it’s a fair indicator of what Diva has to offer. The electro-pop material is odd but beautiful, the vocals breathy but controlled, the lyrics drawled but still pleasant, and most of the weirdness seems to be on purpose. Diva Dompe originally recorded the songs on Moon Moods on 8-track, but later re-recorded them digitally. Along with the new clarity achieved in the technological realm came the decision to move away from heavily effected vocals on most of the material, which is probably why her voice seems to sway a little more than I’m used to hearing. The result is perhaps accidentally fresh—that magic that happens when an artist tries a new medium before getting bogged down by the rules and regulations. Even in its freshness, the influences of ‘80s electro-pop are clear, and whether that’s on purpose or another consequence of the technological transition is debatable, but I thought it was fun. –Ischa B.

Dolfish
I’d Rather Disappear Than Stay The Same
Afternoon Records
Street: 10.30
Dolfish = The Mountain Goats + Nick Drake + Jay Reatard
After putting out his debut EP last year entitled Your Love Is Bummin’ Me Out, the debut full-length LP from Cleveland’s Max Sollisch bummed me out for all the wrong reasons. If you have not listened to Dolfish (the moniker of Sollisch) before, it may take a while before you get used to his unique, high-pitched style of singing. And even after listening to a couple of songs, his bizarre, rambling lyrics and mediocre guitar playing on this album failed to keep my ears’ attention. Even though his debut EP received some good reviews, the 12 songs on this record only achieved a dull effect overall. It was refreshing to hear the unique sound of Dolfish, but I was only left with a question mark in my head, trying to make some sense of what I had just heard. –Jory Carroll

Dordeduh
Dar De Duh
Prophecy
Street: 11.13
Dordeduh = Enslaved + Drudkh + Ulver
Once the former members of Romanian black metal crew Negura Bunget announced their creation of Dordeduh, the hype was already stirring. Two years ago, the band released a two-song EP only increasing the hype. The wait is over, as the full-length has arrived and the hype is worth it. The full-length is one balanced majestically—equally dark and cold, pumped with atmosphere and melody conjoined with  plenty of black metal and folk bits. It all combines into a massive undertaking of a record that shows a blatant attention to detail. In the metal climate where things are morphing constantly, Dordeduh pays homage to the roots of black metal and offers a whole goodie bag of new tantalizations. Album opener “Jind De Tronuri” is over 16 minutes, and it seems to go by in a flash. There is a mass amount of metal and other grandiose musical exercises be found here. –Bryer Wharton

Double Naught Spy Car
Western Violence
11 Foot Pole Records
Street: 10.16
Double Naught Spy Car = Mr. Bungle – Mike Patton
Typically, surrealist cover art and song titles that allude to ’80s pop culture hint at an album that will deliver a memorable listening experience regardless of the material’s quality. Double Naught Spy Car’s third release has both of those aspects going for it, but the end result is surprisingly forgettable—though not from lack of trying.  Each song blends elements of rockabilly, surf rock and prog, which provide a wide range of musical style, but it also create a lack of cohesion. This stylistic mash-up is most prevalent on the final track of the album, “Journey to the Center of Guitar Center,” a psychotic exploration of a guitar’s inner soul that reminds the listener exactly what the instrument is capable of.  Regardless of the group’s musical abilities, Western Violence should be a chaotic tour of disparate musical elements instead of a playlist comprised of clichés usually reserved for B-movie soundtracks. –Alex Springer

Eyehategod
New Orleans is the New Vietnam
A389 Records
Street: 08.30
Eyehategod = Eyehategod
The good: well, anything new from Eyehategod is always good. The bad: this 7” is only one song, and although the song blows away anything by the unfathomable amount of EHG rip-off bands, it merely serves as a teaser for more upcoming new material. The granddaddies of sludge-punk, EHG seemingly never miss a beat, no matter how long their hiatuses are, or how long they go without recording new material. This, kids, is how you play pissed-the-fuck-off music. Filthy-as-fuck Southern-fried riffs and sledgehammer-like drums combine with Mike Williams’ always grimy vocals further show that EHG is better than any other flavor-of-the-week/month/year/decade band that you currently drool over. This is the real shit. -Gavin Hoffman

The Fake Boys
Pig Factory
Animal Style Records
Steet: 03.27
The Fake Boys = Dinosaur Jr. + The Offspring + Green Day
Despite the fact that this album came in the form of a groovy, transparent pink vinyl record, the repetitive, pop-punk sound of each song got old to me, even before the needle reached the end of the first side. I admit that this is the first Fake Boys album I’ve listened to, but out of the eleven tracks, the only song that really caught my attention was the acoustic number, “Best Post.” Aside from that, this album is made up of short, upbeat-punk tunes that sound pretty much the same, mostly due to some average singing and guitar playing. Without of a lot of soloing, or jamming by the trio of veteran musicians, the vocals of Jim Domenici become bland and overwhelming, and the stale lyrics don’t help either. If your favorite radio station is X96, you’ll probably dig this record, but I couldn’t find that much on this album worth my while. —Jory Carroll

Grape Soda
Form a Sign
Kindercore Records
Street: 11.06
Grape Soda = Pixies x
(MGMT – M83)
Form a Sign is a respectably well rounded and unique effort for Grape Soda’s first LP. Brothers Mat and Ryan Lewis form a duo that cuts out all the unnecessary gibber-gabber, and end on a perfectly matched concoction of drums and keyboard. “Subtle” is not in their vocabulary. Mat either wails painfully, or semi-raps monotonously over energetic percussion. Overlaid, surreal keyboard elements (such as on “Hot Toes”) often become chaotic unexpectedly, keeping you on your toes until the final phantasmagoric discordancy of the album closes. I’m now anxiously awaiting a release of another effort. I would like to see where the Lewis brothers can go from here. –LeAundra Jeffs

Jason Collett
Reckon
Arts & Crafts
Street: 09.25
Jason Collett = Wilco + Mason Jennings
If you’ve ever wondered where the strain of (North) Americana comes from in Broken Social Scene’s music, Jason Collett is the answer. Reckon is a consistent collection of folky tunes with an occasional venture into funk and blues territory. Everything is done tastefully, including the clean, warm production, though the mellow feel makes for music that may not grab the listener from the get-go. If you’re in for repeated listens, however, your patience will be rewarded. –Nate Housley

Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch
The Mystery of Heaven
Sacred Bones
Street: 11.13
Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch = Marc Ribot + Daniel Lanois
The five songs that comprise The Mystery of Heaven are minimal, treble-heavy soundcapes relying on Jarmusch’s use of contained guitar feedback and Wissem’s repeating single-note lute progressions. Minus the lute, these pieces are musically similar to the scores for Jarmusch’s film The Limits of Control—performed by Sunn O)))—and Neil Young’s work on Dead Man. I imagine that The Mystery of Heaven is a sort of preview for the music that he and Van Wissem have composed for Jarmusch’s upcoming film, Only Lovers Left Alive. “The More She Burns the More Beautifully She Glows” features one of the film’s stars, Tilda Swinton, reciting a poem over pulsating feedback—vampire romance. Not my realm of interest, but there’s obviously an audience for it. I’d prefer if the record was entirely instrumental. Van Wissem’s lute takes the lead on the title track, and it is quite pretty, but the calm noise of “Flowing Light of the Godhead” is the album highlight. –T.H.

JJ Doom
Key To The Kuffs
Lex
Street: 08.20
JJ Doom = Buck 65 + Dr. Octagon + El-P (Cancer For Cure)
London producer Jneiro Jarel has provided the most bass-heavy, electronic soundscapes MF Doom has yet rapped over. The beats are overwhelming with samples that grab my attention individually before I can recognize the entire rhythm. Doom’s music has always been full of social commentary that makes me think twice, and Jarel’s eccentric production complements Doom’s maniacal lyrics well. Being that he’s currently unable to return to America due to visa issues, this album has its share of both comical and profound vocal samples. Doom says it best on “Bite The Thong”: “JJ Doom go pop? It’s not so irrational.” I didn’t think Doom could make a club hit, but “Wash Your Hands” is as close as he gets. This is another Doom collaboration classic. –Justin Gallegos

Lymbyc Systym
Symbolyst
Western Vinyl
Street: 09.18
Lymbyc Systym = Talk Demonic + This Will Destroy You
This album, by brothers Michael and Jared Bell, was recorded and shared via email and compiled over the course of three years. Despite the recording process and time lapsed from beginning to finish, it is a bright and cohesive release. The lush instrumentals are calming and inviting, even when they build to a feverish pace. The glitch synths and melodic bass-lines, though somewhat repetitive, are continuously built upon in each track, and each song is increasingly complex (and in some cases includes a string section, e.g. “Eyes Forward”). –Cody Hudson

Midnight
Complete and Total Hell
Hell’s Headbangers
Street: 09.25
Midnight = AC/DC + Darkthrone + Nunslaughter
For the first decade of the new millennium, Cleveland, Ohio’s Midnight were about as underground as a band can get, but following 2011’s absolutely masterful Satanic Royalty, the band’s sleazy brand of black n’ roll was thrust unto the metal masses, complete with a US tour with thrash darlings Toxic Holocaust. Make no mistake, though—Midnight plays straight-up, no bullshit, filthy-as-fuck hard rock, and this compilation proves that they’ve been doing it for the better part of a decade. Combining the band’s entire pre-Satanic Royalty back catalog (roughly) into one neat, little package, this is not a new release as such, but it is an excellent introduction to the band, and an easy way to catch up on everything you missed prior to their lone full-length … unless you happened to pick up the Complete and Total Fucking Midnight compilation in 2005. Get on it. –Gavin Hoffman

Neurosis
Honor Found in Decay
Neurot
Street: 10.30
Neurosis = Isis + Bloodiest + A Storm of Light
If you are a Neurosis fan, this long-awaited album is apt to please. One of the things the band has always done best since—and even a bit before—their switch to pioneering post-rock is their ability to set tones and atmospheres. Honor Found in Decay is, as the title subtly suggests, a sluggish record with explosive moments. It all starts out featuring minimal guitar and some electronic tinkering with opener “We All Rage in Gold,” which later jumps into the intense bits. The orchestration seems more prevalent, setting up an almost soundtrack/score type vibe. The mid-album duo of “My Heart for Deliverance” and “Bleeding the Pigs” is easily the record’s strongest point, with closer “Raising the Dawn” capping things with a more decayed sound. When you want to put on your Neurosis hat, this fits just as nicely as the rest. –Bryer Wharton

The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry
The Orbserver In The Star House
The End Records
Street: 08.28
The Orbserver = Mad Lion + Nightmares On Wax +
Prefuse 73
This collaborative album is not for casual fans of either reggae or electronica—this is for those enthusiasts who have been waiting for dub pioneer Perry to lend his characteristic vocal talents to virtuoso production. The electro-pioneering duo The Orb (triple-pioneer action!) provide this backdrop effortlessly. Recorded from a set of jam sessions in Berlin, the songs often showcase their improvisational nature, having a free-form structure that feels very organic. For all the album’s pedigree and represented talent, it can be very hard to listen to. The loose approach leads to rambling sets of lyrics and moments where the production breaks into awesomeness, then fades into another idea too rapidly. I hesitate to even place this release into the larger world of pop music—it might feel at home in more avant-garde company. Whether it belongs with obscure art music or the reggae productions that are its roots, The Orbserver is an interesting experiment by some of the best there ever were. –Rio Connelly

Parkway Drive
Atlas
Epitaph
Street: 10.30
Parkway Drive  = August Burns Red + Emmure
There’s an interesting hybridization going on—with familiar metalcore elements and a smattering of other techniques and instruments, never repeated—that keeps the listener’s ear hooked. Passion is high and raw, but on repeated spins, it does lose some of its luster. There are some standout elements that I really enjoy—the drumline on “Wild Eyes,” the soft opener on “The River,” the album opener itself, “Sparks”—but they’re mixed with just as many clichés and seriously uninspired moments that hold the album down. The lyrics are particularly lacking in poetry (song “Atlas” being the only exception), and while I love vocalist Winston McCall’s deliciously brutal screambox, he needs to stop getting his inspiration from quote-of-the-day websites. Hearing overused phrases like “nothing to fear but fear itself” only draws power from the songs. Overall, it’s an enjoyable, if not particularly memorable effort that, if polished in the future, could really hit you in the solar plexus. –Megan Kennedy

Peace
The World Is Too Much With Us
Suicide Squeeze
Street: 10.16
Peace = Interpol, stripped down + Sonic Youth’s Murray
Street guitars
The opening track of this Vancouver post-punk band’s sophomore full-length set my expectations high: “Your Hand In Mine” is moody and romantic without being lame, and its simple riff and straightforward beat makes it catchy as hell. It was hard to get into the rest of the record, which is a blur of monotonous sing-talking over diverse bass and drum grooves and oblique guitar noodling. Don’t get me wrong—The World Is Too Much With Us (a title lifted from a Wordsworth poem) has plenty of skilled instrumentation and a few standout songs, such as “Winterhouse” and the dark closer, “Tattoo.” But after such a great start, the record just left me waiting for more of the lovesick magic of the first song. To borrow from its lyrics, “Where is the glory? … It’s ‘Your Hand In Mine.’” –Cody Kirkland

Pet Shop Boys
Elysium
Astralwerks
Street: 9.11
Pet Shop Boys = The Human League + OMD – Kraftwerk
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what doesn’t quite add up here—because while an underwhelming release for the dynamic duo, it remains a decent effort—but my guess is that swapping a few of the duds for the wondrous B-side “A Certain ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’,” or some self-editing would have made this a bigger winner. Speaking of that first single, “Winner,” it fits into the context of the album, but is arguably one of their weakest ever, with the aforementioned B-side completely outshining it.  Not all is lost: “Leaving” is catchily moody, “A Face Like That” sublime, and the last three tracks, “Memory Of The Future,” “Everything Means Something” and the suave “Requiem In Denim and Leopardskin”—which features one of Tennant’s most delicate vocal treatments ever—are all divine. Sadly, “Your Early Stuff” sounds unfinished and half-formed while “Hold On” is ill advised and embarrassing. –Dean O Hillis

Pig Destroyer
Book Burner
Relapse
Street: 10.22
Pig Destroyer = Napalm Death + Brutal Truth + Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Oh ye despoiler of swine! Your contributions to grind are numbered above most. It took you five years to follow-up the fanta-orgasm of violence that was Phantom Limb, but the wait was worth every pestilent second. The band is best at creating maniacal records that have the pacing of an incontinent old man at a Chuck-A-Rama, flowing like golden honey for the gods of brutal, cohesive glory. The grooves are heavy here. “The Diplomat” is a prime example of what to expect on Book Burner: thick, raw and punishing groves that morph into frenzied chaos and disdained distortions. This follows Phantom Limb in the territory of having a bit more structure than the early records without the sacrifice of chaos that makes it grind mayhem. Pick this book up and it will burn—get going and melt your face with it. –Bryer Wharton

Silent Rider
Self-titled
Self-released
Street: 09.18
Silent Rider = As Tall As Lions + Clams Casino
This album sounds like a newer, less interesting version of Portugal. The Man’s Waiter: “You Vultures!”. This release is so reminiscent of that album that it is almost mimicry. The beats are on point, each one is dark, complex and more sinister-sounding than the last. The vocals are melodramatic and yet, when he isn’t in an unnecessary falsetto (reminiscent of Thursday or Chiodos), he sings with the same lack of emotion as Jake Snider in some of Minus the Bear’s more exciting stuff. The beats would probably be better on their own. –Cody Hudson

Taken By Trees
Other Worlds
Secrety Canadian
Street: 10.02
Taken By Trees = The Cardigans + El Perro Del Mar
“Languid” and “relaxing” come to mind when listening to the latest release from Victoria Bergsman (ex-Concretes). Inspired by a recent trip she took to Hawaii, the album plays out like an extended dreamscape of dubby waves—almost like the ultimate, chilled-out version of a chill-out album, so pacifying and breezy are its first few tracks.  Lead single “Dreams” is a bit more of the “present” and yet retains a lovely detachment.  Working with producer Henning Fürst to create these backgrounds, Bergsman’s little-girl vocals are mostly cooed and whispered, like a lullaby.  One exception to the sound is the hypnotic “Large,” which nearly seems out of place in comparison to the rest of the album, but has such a lovely swagger that, upon repeated listens, is appreciated for the upbeat reprieve it brings.  And the final cut is more a traditional reprise than it is a remix of “Dreams.” –Dean O Hillis

Tweak Bird
Undercover Crops
Volcom Entertainment
Street: 10.12
Tweak Bird = Dead Confederate + Dead Meadow
On my first listen to Undercover Crops, I had a hard time getting past the robotic repetition of the phrase “Everyone is paranoid” on “Moans,” leaving a taint on the rest of the listening experience. Do yourself a favor when you listen to this album and just go ahead and skip that first track. The rest of this EP is actually pretty impressive, and is loaded with scratchy, metallic guitar reverbs as if the horsepower has been cranked up on some sick-ass ride. Tweak Bird marinates their sound with the likes of classic rock, which is cool, but I’d like to see them get a little more creative with their riffs that are often duplicated in different tracks.  –Brinley Froelich

Various Artists
Kitsuné Maison 14: The Pernod Absinthe Edition
Kitsuné
Street: 10.12
Kitsuné Maison = Peter & The Magician + The Chromatics
The rise of retro-future trends often holds romantic notions of the big city life, where focuses on fashion and clubbing entice massive crowds. This kind of vision allows me to easily classify this collection of songs as an embodiment of that kind of glitz and glam, with an ear keen to electronic manipulations. “True Romance” by Citizens! is comparable to the glory that is house music by Pet Shop Boys, and the remix of “Sun” by Two Door Cinema Club definitely invites the booty to shake. A lot of songs would fit in appropriately on a soundtrack with the same vibe heard on Drive, with “Friends” by Saint Michel fitting the bill. –Brinley Froelich

Victim’s Family
Have a Nice Day
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 07.12
Victim’s Family = Mr. Bungle + Nomeansno + TAD
I’m sure that someone, somewhere appreciates Victim’s Family, but I’m not that someone, and I’m not from that somewhere. The band showcases their love for early Mr. Bungle on Have a Nice Day, even though they formed in 1984—well before Mr. Bungle, and are assuredly fine musicians…but that doesn’t make me like them, or this release, at all. It’s an all-around decent attempt at combining Descendents-type pop-punk with the weirdness of Nomeansno, topped with Mike Patton-esque vocals, but it just doesn’t do anything for me other than make me want to listen to something else. -Gavin Hoffman

Witch Cross
Fit for Fight
Hell’s Headbangers
Street: 10.23
Witch Cross = Mercyful Fate + Accept + Venom
Leave it to the folks at Hell’s Headbangers to dredge up an almost 30-year-old gem from Danish rockers Witch Cross. I was a bit too young in the early ’80s to spend my time searching out European heavy metal imports, but if I would have been more advanced, this release is one I would have fought tooth-and-nail to acquire. Originally released in 1984, Fit for Fight is every bit ’80s metal, but it stands apart from the rest of the glut of bands from that era simply due to how well it has stood the test of time. This is, put simply, a great heavy metal record, whether from the ’80s or the aughts. Sure, the band slaughters the English language for the most part, but they make up for it with well crafted, tongue-in-cheek evilness, and cover art that looks like a Manowar album had a few beers and fucked a Budgie record. Pretty goddamned awesome. –Gavin Hoffman

YOKOKIMTHURSTON
Self-Titled
Chimera Music
Street: 10.02
YOKOKIMTHURSTON = Sonic Youth + Plastic Ono Band
Many of Sonic Youth’s best, most musically-transcendent moments, were instrumental. Their worst were anything that resembled Beat-inspired spoken word. For every piece of Glenn Branca-style noise or progressions—often beautiful and unsettling at once—there was a “Small Flowers Crack Concrete.” It’s difficult not to appreciate Yoko Ono. She’s been involved in the avant-garde art world for decades, has a kind-seeming presence, and has always followed her own vision. This album marks the first collaboration between Ono and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. YOKOKIMTHURSTON’s six tracks are a mix of primal yelps, moans, recitations, and oddly-tuned guitars. Album opener, “I Missed You, Listening” sounds just as most might expect from this collaboration, for better or worse. “Running the Risk” features readings from what were likely nearby news headlines. It’s the kind of thing used as an example of bad modern poetry—usually from people who don’t read poetry, but that’s beside the point. I wanted to enjoy this, but was mostly just annoyed. –T.H.