National Music Reviews 12/12

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Bad Advice
Do Not Resuscitate
Grave Mistake
Street: 02.29
Bad Advice = Gang Green x Flipper
Three chords and “don’t give a shit” vocal screams—Bad Advice kicks this EP off with the title track and plows right through at mid-tempo boom-baps, offering enough room to speculate with a couple ring-outs and a speedy double-stop guitar solo that blithely gets a passing grade in guitar class. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking here: This is genuine 80s-style hardcore, with angry, one-minute songs that comprise “If Life’s A Joke” and “Anger Problem.” The EP’s closing track, “Chemical Imbalance,” is slower, but speeds up and thickens in spurts to explicate the vocalist’s mental instability at hand. Throw this EP on a punk mix (or get the 7” if you’re a collector) to hear a few dudes playing the type of music they want to hear—hardcore punk—regardless of whether it’s pushing any musical boundaries. Nothing you haven’t heard, but nothing you won’t like. –Alexander Ortega

Bad Powers
The End Records
Street: 09.18
Bad Powers = Nü Sensae + Siouxsie and the Banshees + Accidente’s guitars
Operatic and weird, Bad Powers open with the spacey guitars and synths of “New Bruises,” which sets a thick, rickety tone for what will ensue. Violins trill with tension on “Eves And Eyes,” which maintains a slow, contemplative pace that seems like it could be easily used to choreograph weird modern dance to. Singer Megan Tweed sings like a Butoh dancer, calculatedly warbling until she reaches a point of attack, such as with “Black Alf,” where she eclipses them with shrieks over meaty bass lines from Cooper. Guest vocalist Eugene Robinson of Oxbow offers Nick Cave-meets-Boots Riley spoken word in “Millennium,” which displays an a-musical imperative from a band who clearly aims to go beyond just making rock. The whole of the album sort of bleeds together in its strangeness where no individual track stands out, but Bad Powers execute their music in such a proficient way that each track constitutes only part of a bigger whole. –Alexander Ortega

Band of Horses
Mirage Rock
Street: 09.18
Band of Horses = Fleet Foxes + America + Iron and Wine
After headlining one of the shows at this summer’s Twilight Concert Series, Band of Horses got their name out to the masses in Salt Lake. However, their latest album, Mirage Rock, flails in a sea of mediocrity and probably won’t do much more to boost their stock. Even though this is the group’s fourth album, the main problem on this record is that they can’t decide whether to stick with an indie-rock or an indie-folk sound. The majority of the album falls into the latter category, with disappointing results, as the band’s sound only manages to resemble the Eagles during their heyday in the 70s. Despite the loud, catchy opening track, “Knock Knock,” the following tracks fall flat. Even with famed producer Glyn Johns at the helm for this record, Band of Horses come up with little to show in the follow-up to their 2010 Grammy-nominated album Infinite Arms. –Jory Carroll

Bison B.C.
Metal Blade
Street: 10.22
Bison B.C. = Electric Wizard + Rwake
Call it growing pains for the lumbering land-beast that is Canuckistan’s Bison B.C., but Lovelessness strikes into uncharted terrain with little tenacity and with more serrated crustiness than a Little Caesar’s dumpster. Gone are the warm, psychotic freakouts of records past, given way to dirt-freak hoarseness, repetition and senseless volume. It’s not all in bad form, as the Thin Lizzy guitar tone in “An Old Friend” and the Fu Manchu sway of “Last and First Things” can attest, but stingy cuts like the 10-minute monotony of “Blood Music” and the breathless repetition of “Anxiety Puke” leave little reward for listeners, be they earnest audiophiles or balls-deep in bong. Uneven like the waddling gait of their mammalian namesake (and heavy through and through), Lovelessness may be a heady indication of a solid transition, but the kinks have yet to be trampled. –Dylan Chadwick

Unaka Rising
This Is American Music
Street: 09.17
Bohannons = Black Francis + The Raconteurs
At times, this Chattanooga, Tenn.-born record sounds very familiar. Half of the songs sound like Jack White or Frank Black were involved in some way—”Cold Dead Hand” and “River Above” being the most obvious—and “Ponchatrain” sounds like a hat-tip to Neil Young & Crazy Horse. But comparisons aside, Bohannons give a heavy, Southern-tinged rock n’ roll ass-kicking. The first half of the record is the most exciting—from the opener “Goodbye Bill” to the way sick riff of “River Above,” some real serious, scowling air guitar is imperative. Despite their familiar sound, the band keeps the record unpredictable enough to keep my attention, and I still like them despite a lyrical claim that they would “never be caught dead in the state of Utah.” –Cody Kirkland

Bone Dance
Throatruiner Records
Street: 10.06
Bone Dance = All Pigs Must Die + Gaza + Elitist
Bone Dance oozes thick brutality. “Writhing In Ecstasy” sounds just as its title suggests: slow, sludgy and with distorted-as-hell guitars that layer on top of each other. A tad thicker than the recordings I’ve heard from this Boise five-piece in the past, and with smooth recording, Bone Dance open with faster tunes, as with “Comfort,” which fires a D-beat blitzkrieg to wake you up. The middle section of the album digs its nails into your skin: “White Guilt” brings a break from the technical madness with an ethereal lead-guitar intro that beckons drawn-out bellows that slather all over the dirge, continuing the sonic torture into “West.” “Children Having Children” picks it back up with a snare-to-kick beat that lends the guitars and bass the wherewithal to meander across consonance and dissonance. “Barren” and “The Skinny” offer similarly disjointed compositions, but with solid song craftsmanship and delivery, who cares? –Alexander Ortega

Books on Tape
Retired Numbers
Sorry Juniper!
Street: 11.13
Books On Tape = Nintendo soundtracks + Reason production templates
Retired Numbers is a collection of previously unreleased tracks from electronic artist Todd Drootin, who retired his Books On Tape project in 2006. It is an MPC-heavy, consistently mischievous series of choppy beats that could play as one long piece. “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” owes nothing to the TLC song — the chorus of which I, of course, first thought of when reading the title. Instead, it features bitcrushed keys over a rhythm that I’d call breakneck if the BPM were only slightly faster. “Johnny Drunk On The Rocks” is all Super Mario Bros. synth progressions, with the beat once again threatening to cause a nervous spasm. Drootin was apparently inspired to release these tracks after receiving an encouraging amount of praise for them from friends and fellow musicians. I don’t know how frequently I’ll be listening to this EP, but I can’t help but feel glad for Drootin’s excitement over releasing this music. –T.H.

Carlton Melton
Photos of Photos
Agitated Records
Street: 10.12
Carlton Melton = Brian Jonestown Massacre - Anton Newcombe + Ishq
While a lot of people may smack shit on ambient music, there are plenty of moments when a decent background noise that’s not too distracting allows your head to focus on something besides scattered thoughts. The entirety of Photos of Photos is that moment during a concert when the guitarist may sit on a certain slow-moving, winding-down riff stretched out to take up some time, for about an hour. This is the perfect album to meditatively zone out to, study, clean, or to do whatever mundane task that’s required of you. Loaded with psychedelic reverbs, that echo gives a feeling of weightlessness with vast soundscapes. The finale of “Smoke Drip” lifts you off into the abyss of space, leaving you with a sense of concentration and clarity. –Brinley Froelich

Creative Adult
Dead Air
Broke Hater
Street: 10.16
Creative Adult = Ceremony + Sick Of It All
This four-song EP of steady, mid-tempo hardcore is the NorCal band’s first release as Creative Adult, though the band sports members of other North Bay bands including Lifelong Tragedy and No Sir. It’s a short but hella satisfying cut of distorted bass, serrated guitar and tough, guttural yell-singing. The title track sounds like a NYC hardcore version of a Misfits song. “You,” the third song in, is a surprising departure from the straightforward hardcore of the other tracks—it sounds like Fugazi playing a Joy Division song and then drunk dudes playing a Fugazi song. I could be way off here—but the EP is good, regardless. I’ll be waiting for a full-length, yes sir. –Cody Kirkland

Street: 09.22
Dragonette = The Scissor Sisters + Little Boots
It’s a crime that this group hasn’t made a dent in the States yet. Sure, everyone was singing along to the Martina Sorbara (Dragonette’s lead singer) and Martin Solveig collaboration “Hello,” but that’s not near enough for a band that should have destroyed the pop charts the minute that its first album dropped five years ago. With their third effort, Sorbara and friends again prove that they are making some of the best pop music around. Sure, songs like “Giddy Up” are over the top, but for every one of those, there are many like “Untouchable,” which features Sorbara trying to tempt some chump to fall into her sexual trap. “Why don’t you get out and save yourself, because you know what I’ll do if I’m allowed,” she sings, in her slinky way that is impossible to deny, much like this album (and Dragonette) as a whole. –Blake Leszcyznski

E. D. Sedgwick
We Wear White
Street: 11.20
E. D. Sedgwick = The White Stripes + Gang of Four + Sharon Jones
What started as Justin Moyer of El Guapo’s solo side project alter-ego is now an actual band and, from what I can tell, much less of a joke. Now, rather than dressing like Edie Sedgwick and singing about Robert Downey Jr., Moyer wears a white suit and fronts an all-girl backing band that plays funky dance-rock songs about sex, unstable boats, retro-fetishism, young love and marijuana. We Wear White, the sixth full-length under the Edie/E.D. Sedgwick name, is the most accessible yet, but still retains enough of the weirdness to make one question what the fuck this band is all about. Listen to “Dirty” for some hot singing, “Mina” for some sweet teenage angst, and “Rockin’ the Boat” to get down and dirty. Although I’m usually too square to “get” this kind of music, this is a fun record, and I probably just take everything too seriously, anyway. –Cody Kirkland

The Gaslamp Killer
Street: 09.17
The Gaslamp Killer = Goblin + Dimlite + Turkish Freakout: Psych-Folk Comps
After several promising EPs, The Gaslamp Killer assembled 47 minutes’ worth of music to throw your back out dancing to (“Flange Face”), become joyfully lost inside (the beautiful Turkish psych/funk-inspired “Nissim”) or orchestrate an Oldboy-style hammer fight to (“Critic,” “In the Dark…”). Get the album, and if you don’t like it, give it to a friend with better taste — then consider punching yourself in the throat for having a closed mind and boring interests. Breakthrough is groove-heavy, with live drums and instrumentation elevating the energy of the music considerably. The fuzzed-out guitar riff on “Dead Vets” and John Carpenter synths-gone-to-a-netherworld in “Meat Guilt” are just a few of many highlights to be heard. The album title is beyond accurate. –T.H.

Departure Songs
Hammock Music
Street: 10.02
Hammock = Antarctica + M83 + Sigur Rós
Hammock’s output up to this point has been exclusively in the reverential, contemplative ambient-drone arena. On their newest album, the Nashville duo reach for rafter-shaking, arena-sized anthems of blissed-out shoegaze maximalism. Departure Songs is a massive, go-for-broke double LP that encapsulates all of Hammock’s influential ambient post-rock as well as a new bombastic side to them, with vocals centered around leaving, returning, death and rebirth. While Hammock’s slow-burn brood has always had a cinematic quality to it that led itself to quiet introspection, Departure finally answers back, dictating the terms of what it means to leave and to be left. The whole experience is pretty cathartic. Just make sure you carve out two hours of your day with really nice headphones. –Ryan Hall

Hostage Calm
Please Remain Calm
Run for Cover Records
Street: 10.09
Hostage Calm = Saves the Day + Beach Boys + Ted Leo
2010’s self-titled release by Hostage Calm was a real left turn for those who were introduced to the band through their prior album, Lens. It was as if Dag Nasty had really gotten into the Beach Boys and decided to do that instead. On Please Remain Calm, all hardcore roots are erased, replaced by occasional glimpses of pop-punk through the ‘60s/‘70s pop sound and multiple instrumentation. I believe taking musical risks and playing outside their genre was a good move for the band, but I’ve struggled with critiquing this album, mostly because my opinion of it depends heavily on context. If you looked at Hostage Calm as a hardcore band that left most of that part of itself behind and has significantly expanded its sound (and recording production), the album is rather accomplished, if uneven in parts. If looked at through an indie/pop lens, then there are strikes against it in how closely portions of Please Remain Calm still align with pop-punk and the band’s genre roots. Ultimately, it may just be perfect: too punk for indie, too pop/indie for punk, making it that rare album that stands apart—which is never a bad place to be. –Peter Fryer

Vanquish in Vengeance
Street: 11.27
Incantation = Autopsy + Immolation + Disma
The death metal world can never have enough Incantation albums. Vanquish in Vengeance marks the band’s ninth studio record and, seriously, they’re all worth owning. Peeps of activity by way of EPs and splits after the blistering boil of pus that was 2006’s Primordial Domination have kept fans of American death metal sustained, but not satisfied, until this beast hit the streets. The record easily has some of Incantation’s best production work, while maintaining the raw, nerve-scraping, gritty sounds the band has become known for. “Transcend into Absolute Dissolution” is a supreme showcase of Incantation’s knack for punching you in the kidneys while easing the pain with dirge and doomy tempo changes. Those tempo changes are what Incantation does best—they pique interest in the album so you don’t want to stop. Brutal death metal’s got nothing—stick to classic American death metal. –Bryer Wharton

Indian Handcrafts
Civil Disobedience for Losers
Sargeant House
Street: 10.30
Indian Handcrafts = The Sword + Tweak Bird
On their sophomore release, Indian Handcrafts invite you to a celebration in which they blow up a supergiant star. This two-piece outfit makes enough noise to make a banshee run for her earplugs. Aside from the comparisons to acts such as Electric Wizard, Black Mountain and Queens of the Stone Age, Civil Disobedience for Losers is as volatile as it is heavy. The song “The Jerk” is eerily reminiscent of Moistboyz in its creepy melody and ironic, screwball lyrics. “Terminal Horse,” the shortest track on the album, sounds as if Gibby Haynes hijacked Lemmy and steered him into a pit of spinning gears. My favorite track is “Bruce Lee,” which starts out with the banging of a gong, then flows along with chants in reference to the great martial artist’s death, all the while grooving along the hills that Tony Iommi once burned. This is a very fun and interesting record. –Jordan Deveraux

Invisible Things
Home IS The Sun
Porter Records
Street: 09.18
Invisible Things = (The Mars Volta + Explosions In The Sky) – (structure + melody)
You know how sometimes, at the end of rock songs, the song degenerates into a guitar and drum freak-out and they just make a bunch of noise? Like, the band just goes nuts and bangs the drums haphazardly and the guitarist just wails away and makes feedback and the thing builds into a triumphant mess, which culminates in one final note and beat, ending the song. Well, this whole record sounds like that. Seventeen tracks of end-of-song freak-out. Almost an entire hour of it. I don’t know why there are separate song titles and tracks, because skipping tracks doesn’t seem to make any audible difference. Here are some things I would rather do than listen to this record again: Walk barefoot for a mile, watch The Bachelor, babysit a baby, clean the floor sink at the café I work at, receive Chinese water torture, etc. I’m sure somebody, somewhere, finds this music beautiful and transcendent, but it’s not me. –Cody Kirkland

Jacob Morris
Cloud Recordings
Street: 12.12
Jacob Morris = Conor Oberst + Daniel Johnston
Initially when I started this album, I felt a bad taste in my mouth. It opens up with a super poppy melody and the cheesiest of lyrics: “When I see a falling flower, I think of you”; “Sometimes I feel good”; and “Today I feel like daydreaming” taint the first couple of tracks. Fortunately, the bad taste left after a few songs. Morris travels down the romantic path, and eventually, Moths grew on me in a way that’s almost embarrassing, considering how cheesy it can get. It’s hard to have anything but warm, fuzzy feelings when someone finds it important to sing about love, no matter how cliché it can feel. It’s the same type of guilty pleasure as a tear-jerking chick flick. –Brinley Froelich

Jai Nitai Lotus
Something You Feel
Art With Intention Recordings
Street: 11.06
Jai Nitai Lotus = Brother Ali/Slum Village
Something You Feel’s appeal is due to JNL’s balance as an emcee. His self-praise is rare and clever when done, which is rare in hip-hop these days. On “Hard Times And Bless,” JNL boasts that rap is a blessing to him and not the other way around. JNL’s voice is commanding and his lyrics are distinguishable. “Originality rules everything around me,” says JNL on “Get Gone.”  His beats knock hard, too. I can’t help but bob my head to the drums JNL laces with big band instruments and quality guest appearances. CeasRock’s verse on “The Barrel” had me attempting to memorize the lyrics after my first listen. From the revival intro with soul claps, to the legendary samples on the last track, Something You Feel proves to be a much-needed addition to underground hip-hop. –Justin Gallegos

John the Conqueror
Alive Naturalsound Records
Street: 10.16
John the Conqueror = Jack White + Black Keys + Gary Clark Jr.
It’s not as catchy as the tunes cranked out by Ohio’s Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, but this self-titled debut album from Philadelphia trio John the Conqueror is a solid output of blues and rock n’ roll.  The vocals and guitar playing of Pierre Moore are impressive in their own right, but along with bassist Ryan Lynn and drummer Michael Gardner, the band’s sound really grooves together nicely. The muddy opening guitar riff on the third track, “Lucille,” pretty much sums up the overall theme of the record, which is full of Moore’s gritty guitar-playing. Moore also demonstrates some nice bottleneck slide-playing on the short instrumental tune, “Passing Time,” near the end of the record. It’s not really fair to compare these guys with veteran groups like the Black Keys or the White Stripes, but John the Conqueror prove on their first album that they have noteworthy chops. –Jory Carroll

Neil Davidge
Halo 4: Original Soundtrack
7Hz Productions
Street: 10.22
Neil Davidge = Every sci-fi soundtrack you’ve ever heard + occasional laser sounds + dramatic drums
Neil Davidge composed a great soundtrack; there is nothing musically wrong with it.  The problem I found is that it doesn’t seem to tie me to Halo in any way.  I’m 90 percent convinced you could mute the audio on any sci-fi movie from the last five years, turn this on, and have yourself a regular Dark Side of Oz-style screening experience.  Video game soundtracks do well when they tie dramatic moments from the game to direct nostalgia.  “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII is a perfect example of this. The theme brings back memories of lost love, heartbreak, and even death.  Currently, the Halo 4 music has my mind wandering all over the universe. I could see Master Chief, or I could see Spock, it wouldn’t matter.  Hopefully, playing through the campaign will give this music meaning, but I’m more convinced that you’d be better off purchasing this simply for the cover art. –Thomas Winkley

Night Moves
Colored Emotions
Domino Records
Street: 10.16
Night Moves = Neil Young/Bon Iver + Sleepy Sun
Not long after pressing play on this gem, I found myself at the mercy of John Pelant’s guitar. It’s everything from a desert-rock god commanding my attention to a psychedelic lounge causing me to drift away—if only this was country music’s future. What Night Moves has created is a unique form of country-fused electric rock that’s all their own. Imagine Empire of the Sun stripped down to less electronics, with heavier guitar. This album should satisfy all indie-rock fans out there who also have an ear for country rock melodies and psychedelic soul. –Justin Gallegos

Opium Warlords
We Meditate Under The Pussy in the Sky
Street: 12.04
Opium Warlords = The Puritan + Sunn O)) + Boris
Enter the not-so-nice moment in the classic Willy Wonka—you know, the “there’s no knowing where we’re going” part—and you have an idea of the tunes delivered from this hermetic living music entity. I’m going to speculate that some psychotropics of some sort were taken during the creation of this record—not because of the band name or the title of the album, but because it’s just so weird. The first few cuts set out to confuse. “Slippy” goes massively crazy and is really the only time things get intense on the album. The rest runs into sludge and some slight drone, but not enough fuzz to go into the James Plotkin realm of obliteration. The fuzzed tone and sort of jumbled harmonies mixed with the ouchie doom punches and tingles your senses. The record is a type of downer/psychedelic drug with its equally warm and comforting tones, all while feeling sickly wrong. –Bryer Wharton

Street: 10.16
Philistines = The Cure + Sonic Youth
Can you get carpal tunnel in your ankle if you tap your feet for too long? Because this is some catchy shit, and I don’t think I can stop. “Keep your head up, you fucking sellout!” yells the song “Keep It Simple.” It’s a fitting mission statement of sorts for a band who keeps it extremely simple, with pop brilliance and twangy guitars smothered in tasteful crooning reminiscent of a disturbingly cheery Robert Smith. Owing plenty to their indie-rock ancestors, Philistines aren’t the most original band, but it’s hard to fault them for that. Like my old flannel shirt in the back of the closet, it’s cozy and warm and I don’t regret it for a second. –Matt Brunk     

Ronnie Fauss
I’m the Man You Know I’m Not
Street: 10.09
Ronnie Fauss = Justin Townes Earl + Reckless Kelly + Willie Nelson
The first impression I got from this record is how earnest everything comes across. It’s as if this guy had never heard any music before in his life and he just picked up a guitar one day and this earthy, folk-touched country is what naturally came out. This is the perfect example of a theory I’ve had for years—here we have a stripped-down, straightforward country artist and band, and because they’ve steered clear of the pop-country bullshit, they get the “alt-country” label unfairly hung on them. If you dig country of any kind, I think there’s something here for you. Fauss brings brilliant lyrics like, “The women are all in the kitchen baking blueberry pie, and the men are all secretly hoping they won’t be the next one to die,” from “This Year.” All throughout this record, there’s great musicianship, but it never gets in the way of the song, which is always how the best country music is approached. –James Orme      

Slam Dunk
Welcome to Miami
File Under: Music
Street: 11.13
Slam Dunk = Black Lips + Vile Blue Shades
Slam Dunk do something that really resonates with me well: They’ve included a saxophone in their band. Just add a little sax and I am absolutely mesmerized by the sexy dance music, and with the added elements of garage-bred punk, I’m seriously hooked. This album is pretty great for indulging in debaucheries, and I’d really love to see these guys play at a bar after having devoured a few beers. I can definitely imagine them having a certain following of a group of friends who scream along to the songs, as the lyrics are delivered pretty aggressively in a non-threatening way. –Brinley Froelich

Sleep Maps
Lost Future Music
Street: 11.13
Sleep Maps = Nine Inch Nails + Russian Circles
With a theme as deeply political as that which this EP is based around—returning soldiers participating in medal-throwing gatherings, and the government/media’s attempts to discredit them—Ben Kaplan/Sleep Maps must have known the risk of appearing too heavy-handed with his message and subject matter. Instead, he deftly balances between the musical impact of Medals’ post-rock compositions and emotional weight inherent in the samples of soldiers’ speeches regarding their experiences in the Vietnam War, countering the rhetoric of politicians promoting the war. The heavy drums and atmospheric guitars of opening track “The Final Weapon” set the mood for an album making great use of tension and noise, as well as space and melody. “The Heavens Gaze Empty” moves in waves, between quietly melodic guitar and pounding drums that collide with distorted guitars and steady bass. This music is often as dark as the thematic narrative that shaped it. –T.H.
Steven A. Clark
Fornication Under Consent of the King
L&E Media Co.
Street: 09.11
Steven A. Clark = 112 + K-Ci & JoJo + Seal
Steven A. Clark’s sophomore offering is a great example of an artist searching for their musical niche. His effort to combine rapping with an R&B delivery, however, falls short on the album. The beats, mostly produced by Clark, are lush pieces of electronica with repetitive synths and occasional funk samples. But Clark’s sultry R&B vocals don’t match the presence of the music. Rapper J. Nics’ grimey voice is featured on “Lonely Roller” and proves that the production shines with a rougher delivery. The two tracks that feature guest producers are the album’s most unique, if not impressive showings. “Seashore” features vocal effects that differentiate Clark’s voice from two other prominent artists in the future R&B movement: Theophilus London and Frank Ocean. “Superhero Re:Orchestrated” finishes the album by replacing the electronics with a standing bass and a ghostly horn. It’s this minimalist approach that suits Clark to the utmost. –Justin Gallegos

Suzanne Vega
Close-Up, Vol. 4: Songs Of Family
Razor & Tie
Street: 10.09
Suzanne Vega = Kate Bush + Joni Mitchell + Leonard Cohen
And with this final volume—featuring some of her best songwriting—Vega’s dazzling Close-Up series reaches its zenith. Opener “Rosemary,” which was already one of her prettier tracks, is a revelation of pure beauty. The unique drama from a triptych of songs about her first marriage (“Honeymoon Suite,” “Soap and Water” and “Widow’s Walk”) is delicately balanced against a pair of songs about their daughter (including the timeless “World Before Columbus”). There are songs about her brothers and mother (“Ludlow Street,” “Brother Mine” and “Tired Of Sleeping,” respectively), but the pair about first, her quest to find her natural father (“Pilgrimage”) and then her feelings about him after having been raised as part Puerto Rican (the new composition, “Daddy Is White”) are absolutely stunning. And one doesn’t have to be a fan to be moved by “The Silver Lady,” one of Vega’s earliest—and until now, previously unreleased—compositions. –Dean O Hillis

Teen Daze
The Inner Mansions
Lefse Records
Street: 11.06
Teen Daze = Gold Panda + Small Black + Beach House
When Jamison was interviewed last July shortly after the release of All of Us, Together, he told SLUG Magazine that he actually had enough material to fill a double LP. “There’s no way I would release a double LP for my first proper release,” he said. As I listen to The Inner Mansions, it’s impossible not to wonder if these are the tracks that didn’t make the cut the first time around. Although The Inner Mansions is reminiscent of All of Us, Together, the mood is more low key. The Inner Mansions pulsates less and the instrumentation is generally subtler than what was found on All of Us, Together. The Inner Mansions may not have anyone gyrating against one another in a dark bar, but I can certainly see it being played during sun salutations at a hip yoga studio. –Jeanette D. Moses

Titus Andronicus
Local Business
XL Recordings
Street: 10.22
Titus Andronicus = Japandroids + Fang Island + Andrew Jackson Jihad
Titus Andronicus’ 2010 album The Monitor, which was kind of—but not really—about the Civil War, should’ve been horrible. Yet, with over 30 musicians involved, songs ranging from five to 14 minutes in length and pop culture references intertwined with lofty themes, it was amazing. Recorded with a more stable lineup and without the constraints of a pseudo concept album hanging over it, Local Business is a much more humble affair. While it never reaches the levels of excellence found on The Monitor, the new album is still an enjoyable listen. The opening salvo of “Ecce Homo” and “Still Life with Hot Deuce on Silver Platter” showcase the album’s more straightforward style—Local Business is much more Replacements than Hüsker Dü—though frontman Patrick Stickles’ exuberance and wit still shine through the Jersey-fied guitar solos and keyboard passages. The band’s sense of energy gets the better of them on the eight-minute meanderer “My Eating Disorder,” and “(I am The) Electric Man” is annoying as fuck, but the positives still outweigh the negatives on Local Business. –Ricky Vigil

A Brief Crack Of Light
Blast Records
Street: 09.11
Therapy? = Ozzy Osbourne (vocals) + Pearl Jam
Part of me wants to make a joke about needing therapy after this album, but that would be a terrible pun and I would get my keyboard privileges revoked. I’m almost willing to admit that I might have missed the point of the album, considering A Brief Crack Of Light is the 13th effort from Irish rockers Therapy? Moments of slightly grungy hard rock are promising, such as the beginning of the song “Plague Bell,” but the slurring vocals mixed with an awkward tempo ruins everything shortly after. It’s like a 90s-era grunge band ended up being the creepy drunk guy who stayed at the party after everybody left. Dude, it’s been decades—it’s time to stop drooling your lyrics and sober up. I will, however, highly recommend their track, “Marlow”—it is very catchy, and also, instrumental. –Matt Brunk

Tori Amos
Gold Dust
Deutsche Grammophone
Street: 10.02
Tori Amos = Kate Bush – Joni Mitchell
While highly debatable which songs should/could have been included in this classically orchestrated collection spanning her career—as the prodigious Ms. Amos celebrates her 20th anniversary as a solo artiste—there’s no denying that her producer’s keen ear likely guided her choices. I’m not complaining, especially on one of my all-time faves that is the title track, as this otherworldly gorgeous take accentuates its beauty and only deepens my love for it. The two most surprising entries are Posse’s “Programmable Soda” and Midwinter Graces’ “Star of Wonder”—not to mention lead track “Flavor”—but the already-known-as-being-orchestrated cuts like “Winter,” and especially “Yes, Anastasia,” sound startlingly fresh with new arrangements by the great John Philip Shenale, and the bold playing of the Metropole Orkest under the direction of Jules Buckley. But surely, the loveliest surprise of all is Amos’ new vocal takes, especially her playful enunciation. –Dean O Hillis

Ty Segall
Drag City
Street: 10.09
Ty Segall = Thee Oh Sees + Mikal Cronin + Coachwhips
If we’ve learned anything about Ty Segall within the past year, it’s that he doesn’t allow the garage rock genre to constrain him. On Twins, his third LP of 2012, he meticulously combines the various paths he explored on Slaughterhouse, Hair and last year’s Goodbye Bread. The album bounces through a variety of styles—acoustic ballads like “Gold on the Shore” and a 60s psych track like “Who Are You” rub up against one another without things ever feeling awkward. The album is full of genre-spanning disparities, which could have been a disappointment if the transitions between the styles and moods of each track weren’t so seamless. Twins is an album with multiple personalities, but each ones serve a purpose. And, quite frankly, it’s refreshing to find an artist focused on doing whatever the fuck he wants. –Jeanette D. Moses

Various Artists
Alive at the Deep Blues Fest
Alive Naturalsound Records
Street: 11.27
Various Artists = Radio Moscow + Buffalo Killers + John the Conqueror
Recorded live this summer in Bayport, Minn., this compilation features blues and rock tunes from a handful of bands such as the Buffalo Killers, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Brian Olive, Radio Moscow, Left Lane Cruiser, John The Conqueror, and Henry’s Funeral Shoe. Although recording live at a festival can be tricky in terms of getting a good sound, this record does a nice job in doing so. And due to the fact that it is recorded live, one of the highlights includes a nine-minute jam from the Buffalo Killers. Even though most of the bands on this record may not be that well known, there is a lot of good playing going on nonetheless. And with only two tracks from most of the groups, your ears get a nice mix of sounds that doesn’t let the album drag or get old. –Jory Carroll

The Waves of Fury
Alive Naturalsound Records
Street: 10.30
The Waves of Fury = River City Rebels ¬+ Shannon and the Clams + Iggy Pop + Xray Eyeballs
The Waves of Fury’s biggest flaw is they’ve tried to accomplish a bit too much on their debut album, and the result ends up sounding dated and drab. Motown, rockabilly and garage rock influences flit in and out of Thirst, and in truth, I really wanted to like this release, but there is something about the album as a whole that just doesn’t feel genuine.  The songs are catchy, but not catchy enough that you’ll play them on repeat, and overall, the production seems far too slick for what this group is attempting to accomplish. The shining moment of Thirst comes when the group strips away the horns, heavy drumbeats, odd, howling wolf sound effects and screechy desperate vocals on “Nervous Exhaustion,” with its simple acoustic guitar and handclaps. Hopefully, next time around, The Waves of Fury stick to simplicity. –Jeanette D. Moses

The Winter Sounds
New Granada
Street: 11.27
The Winter Sounds = Early ‘80s New Order + Early ‘80s Cure + Arcade Fire
While something of a pleasant “pop” surprise, it is hard to tell exactly who comprises it—save for original founding member Patrick Keenan—as the musician count rests at 10 and songwriting is credited to “the band.” With his pleasant—if not a tad generic—voice that would have fit easily into an early-‘80s guitar band leading the way, the first few tracks are snappy and easily digestible, especially lead cut “The Sun Also Rises,” and “Bird On Fire,” but it is that same voice that hinders the proceedings a bit. Producer Scott Solter wisely keeps most of the individual songs’ length under the three-minute mark. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink aspect to the revolving band members helps explain the lack of a solid theme connecting the songs together, but with most of them being fairly catchy, this is forgivable.
–Dean O Hillis
Xiu Xiu
Quagga EP
Kingfisher Bluez
Street: 11.15
Xiu Xiu = Former Ghosts + Merzbow
Jamie Stewart is a fucking weirdo, and this EP goes along with that notion. You know how on older Xiu Xiu albums, there were those really abstract noise songs that seemed sort of out of place? Apparently, he hasn’t been able to get his fix for that, since his last few albums have been more on the pop side of noise pop. The first track, “Quagga,” sounds like an alien encounter, moving from jarring 8-bit drone to helicopter engine noises and on to a few other odd noises. It sort of seems like he would just play one key on his synth and move to a different dystopian voice after 30 seconds. The next song, “Thylacine,” is pretty similar in construction—it, however, sounds like some weird futuristic space monk chant. I think Jamie Stewart is either fucking with us or he really liked the movie Prometheus. –Cody Hudson

Young Turks
Where I Lie
Street: 08.07
Animal Style Records
Young Turks = Ruiner + Touche Amore + Life Long Tragedy
Some albums should be so much better than they are. Where I Lie is that kind of album. On first blush, the right ingredients are there: scratchy vocals, hardcore guitar lines, and heartfelt themes. They never mix in quite the right way, though. Where I Lie opens with unabashed Touche Amore worship, an already risky proposition, which is promptly derailed by lackluster lyrics that should be more eloquent and passionate than they are—like a B+ poem written for a high school AP English Class. Lyrics aside, there are engaging guitar lines and song structures found throughout the album which incorporate multiple facets of hardcore stylings (and leave the shades of Touche Amore behind). These would be enough to overshadow some of the overwrought vocals, if only they lasted longer. Young Turks have potential, but many elements on Where I Lie are a miss –Peter Fryer