Thee American Revolution
Buddha Electrostorm
Fire Records
Street: 12.05.11
Thee American Revolution = Home Blitz + Apples In Stereo
With the recent resurgence in 90s-esque fuzz rock (led by bands like Japandroids and Jeff The Brotherhood), this reissue is coming at a perfect time. Thee American Revolution is a side project led by Robert Schneider (of Apples in Stereo), and he has taken his swirling Elephant Six pop sensibilities and distorted them until they are hardly recognizable. Even with the simple song compositions filtered through feedback, Schneider does a great job drawing you in with engaging melodies. Though it is a bit upbeat for my tastes at times (Elephant Six bands tend to be a bit too bubblegum-pop for me), it is an album that any Elephant Six fan should pick up. –Cody Hudson

Bad Weather California
Family Tree Records
Street: 02.21
Bad Weather California= Meat Puppets + Beach Boys
I turned this on and let it play expectation free and found it to be a pleasant, easy listening experience— not easy listening as in elevator music, but the type of music you don’t have to over think at all. Bad Weather California is composed of former punk rockers and friends of the experimental-folk band Akron/Family who have taken a liking to beach rock, with a sound that is equal parts retro and modern. Sunkissed is adequately named—tracks such as ‘’Let It Shine’’ and ‘’I Feel Like Dancing’’ would make any winter-ridden motherfucker long for a beer and some sunshine. The slow, sing-along style rhythm is definitely intended to put you in a good mood. Take a break from being jaded and try it out. –Kia McGinnis

Barry Adamson
I Will Set You Free
Central Control
Street: 02.14
Barry Adamson = (Nick Cave + Iggy Pop) x (Thomas Dolby + Brian Eno)
Returning to his roots, in a manner of speaking, Bad Seed Barry Adamson (The Birthday Party, Depeche Mode, Visage) brings forth his tenth album. It’s his indie-rockin’est release in years, and his first since 2008. While his usual brand of Motown and jazz—albeit very dark Motown and jazz—is evident on tracks like “Black Holes in My Brain” and “Stand In,” the majority of the tracks here recall his punk-Americana work with Nick Cave (the standout tracks “The Sun and the Sea” and “Destination”) or the Bowie/Iggy-influenced styling of Magazine (“Get Your Mind Right”). Still other tracks rewrite adult contemporary for the indie crowd (“Turnaround” and “The Power of Suggestion”). While taking a step away from imagining a soundtrack to a James Bond film directed by David Lynch, Adamson turns out what may be his strongest album yet. –Madelyn Boudreaux

Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka
50 Weapons
Street: 01.27
Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka = James Blake + Blawan + Jacques Greene
They!Live is a mood album, set on penetrating a specific part of your mind and staying put, like a strong emotion or memory. There are light, glitchy drums, heavy bass and vocals that both pump you up and evoke something deeper in the human condition. Electronic dance music these days is heading in all directions, running circles through genres, head-butting sounds and coming around and head-butting them again, so that the best music is becoming unclassifiable, somewhere in the middle of five or six genres. Instead of being straitjacketed by one movement, the best producers are hand-picking their favorite elements from all over the place and bringing them together to produce highly unique, highly creative music that cannot be replicated by anyone, even the original producers. This album is no exception. Spanning movements, genres, sounds, and decades, Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka draw on a varied and penetrating history of dance music to craft a beautiful album that is appropriate both for the dance floor and the headphones alike. –Jessie Wood

Birds in Row
Street: 01.17
Birds in Row = Black Cross + Young Widows + late Snapcase
Maximum Louisville’s jilted strain by way of … France? Rad. Having just signed to ’core powerhouse Deathwish Inc., the good folks at Vitriol have seen fit to help with the transition and release a compilation of all the band’s material to date. Weighty and tangled, Birds in Row play hardcore with a palpable amount of rage and experimentation, freely moving past the sub-genre’s narrow confines into otherwordly territory. “Cottbus Outro” slithers, crackles and pops like an Appalachian campfire crawl and “Chat Noir” disintegrates into something spazzy, akin to Spanish castanets. Circuitous instrumentation propels this into the stratosphere of holy terror while phlegmy vocals swim in the mix to keep it grounded. Songs rumble, snarl and if you listen carefully, coo. Quality stuff. –Dylan Chadwick

Black Taxi
We Don’t Know Any
Street: 01.14
Black Taxi = Bloc Party + Minus The Bear
We Don’t Know Any Better sounds a bit like if First Impressions of Earth (The Strokes) was recorded by The Killers. When the overused synth-organ isn’t reminding you of a car commercial, the lead singer is punctuating every other line with falsetto vocals, like a modern day fucking Freddie Mercury … but shittily. It is a shame that the album is polished up like a disco whore, because there is some fairly intricate guitar work and decent song structures. The lead singer might be better suited for a Minus The Bear cover band, though, if he could just stop his Saturday Night Fever falsettos. –Cody Hudson

Christian Mistress
Street: 02.28
Christian Mistress = Black Sabbath + Iron Maiden + Motörhead
There is always comfort in what you know—Christian Mistress never intended to recreate classic heavy metal, let alone have high hopes and some absolution that they will be the band that reignites the classic heavy metal sound. Where the last record succeeded at sounding more in the 70s during the very origins of what would be heavy metal, Possession amps the metal up high and the volume knob even higher. The capper that makes Christian Mistress not fully sound like a NWOBHM rehash band is their ace in the hole, Christine Davis. The light she brings from her heavenly serenades to the demonically sultry and vixen-tempting lower-key beltings is as power as the vocal duality displayed when Black Sabbath first brought Dio on board. At its easiest, Possession is a riff-churning monster that will bring up memories of the more peppy/chugging Iommi-Sabbath burners to early Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motörhead and hints of the more upbeat Girlschool. This has heavy fucking metal written all over it—and it’s a blast to blaze up anytime. Get Christian Mistress on some bigger tours and they just may educate a few tots on how to shred, blast and swoon. –Bryer Wharton

Christopher Paul Stelling
Songs of Praise and Scorn
Mecca Lecca Records
Street: 02.21
Christopher Paul Stelling = Sandy Bull + Jack Johnson
Christopher Paul Stelling is a New York urbanite, but his musical approach might convince you he’s never stepped foot outside of the West Coast. With Songs of Praise and Scorn, Stelling lays out California-styled folk tunes peppered with sporadic bursts of Flamenco guitar-plucking. His wavering vocals have a mellow inflection like he has an everlasting sinus cold. Stelling’s lukewarm melodies are charming at first, but ultimately lack variance and dimension. Nearly all of the tracks are average and don no other instrument than just the single guitar and a single kick drum’s hollow backbeat. Even the catchiest track, “Little Broken Birds,” only has the potential of sounding like a filler song on the soundtrack of an indie coming-of-age film. Indistinct and bare-boned folk artists like Stelling may prosper via live gigs in dive bars and small venues, but aren’t appealing enough to survive for long on recordings. –Gregory Gerulat

Damon & Naomi
Damon & Naomi With Ghost
Drag City
Reissue: 01.31
Damon & Naomi = Mojave 3 + Tindersticks + Asobi Sesku
With Ghost is a reissue of Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang’s fourth album together. While running concurrently for some time with their “other” band, Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi have been reliable purveyors of placid and intricately composed dream pop since Galaxie’s demise in the ‘90s. Damon & Naomi’s collaboration with Japanese psych-folk outfit Ghost nudges their hushed and restrained pop into more psychedelic realms near the album’s undeniably strong B-Side. The proggy aspirations of “Tanka” and “The Great Wall” don’t diminish Damon & Naomi’s unrushed approach to their songwriting’s lullaby-like calm. Krukowski’s meandering guitar passages take a backseat to focus on the hazy atmospherics in the album’s A-Side, only to be unleashed on With Ghost’s slightly more rockist B-Side. This is great news for fans of Krukowski’s guitar salvo in Galaxie 500 or Beach House’s revival of 4AD’s fey dream pop. –Ryan Hall

Doug Jerebine
Is Jesse Harper
Drag City
Street: 01.31
Doug Jerebine = Jimi Hendrix + Allman Brothers Band + Eddie Hazel
Is Jesse Harper is the first official release of an album that is due for some belated praise, considering it was recorded in the late sixties. The most notable trait in each song is Jerebine’s stunning skill as a guitarist. Effects pedals are used sparingly. Instead, Jerebine favors playing techniques that emulate popular effects such as echo and vibrato. “Circles,” “Idea” and “Ain’t So Hard To Do” are recommended as introductions to the album’s overall sound and aesthetic. There is an audible layer of grain throughout Is Jesse Harper. This reissue was mastered from one of the only existing original acetate pressings. Those pressings have presumably survived some rough weather and storage conditions over the last four decades, so it is impressive that Is Jesse Harper exists at all. I was unfamiliar with Jerebine’s work until recently and am glad to have heard it. –T.H.

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
Southern Lord
Street: 02.14
Earth = Sunn O))) + True Widow + Ennio Morricone
Recorded during the same session as last year’s excellent Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I, this latest offering from Earth is yet another masterpiece of drone doom. Continuing in the tradition of 2005’s Hex and every following Earth release, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II features distortion-free, highly repetitive music played at a glacial pace, evoking the soundtrack of a Spaghetti Western, British folk music and other disparate influences. As always, this is not music for those with short attention spans, though Earth’s clean instrumentation makes their brand of drone more palatable than the highly amplified drone of Sunn O))) or Boris. Adrienne Davies’ drumming is a highlight, as she is the constant anchor of the band, keeping a steady (but very, very slow) rhythm for Dylan Carlson and friends to drift around. The most striking part of the album is the cello work of Lori Goldston, particularly on “Multiplicity of Doors,” where she bends her instrument to the point of it not sounding like an instrument at all. With Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II, Earth has again showcased their uncanny ability to ground listeners yet transport them to far-off lands with their trance-inducing soundscapes—highly recommended. –Ricky Vigil

Be With You Digital Single
Street: 11.21.11
Something of a rare offering among artists and surely boggling to the narrow minds of record company executives, Vince & Andy continue a generous—if not limited—trend of releasing super fan-friendly yet UK chart-ineligible bona fide “maxi” singles. With said crazy UK chart rules, it is refreshing to find their latest (and possibly last single from Tomorrow’s World) boasting seven tracks. OK, so the diehards (myself included) will have bought the imported physical disc, but this is still a bargain by anyone’s measure with six versions of the title track alone. The great Gareth Jones’ “Love Is Coming Mix” showcases why he’s remained one of their greatest collaborators through the years—he simply knows the duo’s strengths—although the hypnotic Moto Blanco “Club Mix” comes in at a close second. Erasure “acoustic” versions are always startlingly pretty, and this one is no different. However, the real gem here is another B-side: “Never Let You Down.” –Dean O Hillis

The Singles
Street: 02.07
Goldfrapp = Robyn + Portishead + Shirley Bassey
Goldfrapp is the sexy English electronic duo that formed in 1999 and have released five solid albums, including the stunning debut Felt Mountain. The duo recently announced their departure from the EMI label and most of us know what happens when a group leaves their longtime home; it’s usually followed with the release of a greatest hits album. The Singles is just that. It features about two to three tracks from each of their albums plus two new songs, the spacious slow burner “Melancholy Sky” featuring Alison Goldfrapp’s familiar breathy voice, and the ethereal, synth-driven “Yellow Halo.” To be honest, this is for the novice Goldfrapp listener. Someone should have suggested a CD/DVD combo or a second disc of unreleased material, as there’s no real incentive for a dedicated fan to pick this up. –Courtney Blair

Ill Mondo
De Novo
Circle Into Square Records
Street: 08.30.11
Ill Mondo = Guru Guru + Orquesta del Desierto + Satin Whale
Playing a lighter shade of funk-inspired tunes, Ill Mondo’s sound has settled down and shied away from much of their early hip-hop influence. This move feels necessary, not only to fully realize their fusion of German prog rock with upbeat Latin percussion and brass, but also to distinguish their sound from the teeming horde of hip-hop influenced producers. Featuring a host of live performers and a quite varied array of vocal talent, De Novo’s power comes from their diverse instrumentation and the simple pleasure of leaning back and letting their mellow vibe wash over you. Apparently, simple arrangements hide a surprising level of complexity and forethought, and Ill Mondo’s composition exemplifies the organic sound of progressive rock without sounding too cut up or constructed. –Henry Glasheen

J.C. Satan
Hell Death Samba
Slovenly Recordings
Street: 10.18.11
J.C. Satan = Loiter Cognition + Black Lips + Sonic Youth + Yo La Tengo
The second full-length release from this group of French/Italian Satanic garage punks, Hell Death Samba, is a mélange of gritty, low-fi rock and pretty, psychedelic love songs. Dreamy, melodic numbers such as “The Junkie Knight” and “Abandon” are sandwiched between rockers like “Unhappy Girl,” full of heavily distorted vocals and drum sludge. “In the Light” stands out from the album, highlighting Paula H.’s lullaby singing. Hell Death Samba often switches abruptly from layers of loud, fast, screaming noise to pretty, druggy songs without being off-putting. With such an assortment of moods, this record doesn’t get boring after many consecutive listens. When I’m on my way down to hell, I’ll still be wailing along with the title track: “Join us and dance … the Hell Death Samba!” –Cody Kirkland

John K. Samson
Street: 01.24
Samson = The Weakerthans + The Mountain Goats + John Mellencamp
Serving as bassist for Canada’s indomitable and socially aware punk trio Propagandhi, John K. Samson helped inspire many to harness the political resolve of old-style punk rock. And just as the band got a little too preachy, he jumped ship and started The Weakerthans. Now, Samson has recruited others to help him flesh out his most recent words in the form of this solo record. The album pairs songs from two recent 7” singles with a slew of new material—each song exploring the stories hidden alongside Manitoba’s isolated country roads. The result is a mix of almost hymn-like mellow numbers with several cuts that aim to recreate the rock edge of Samson’s previous projects. The songs vary in subject from forgotten hockey players and the former glories of small towns to failed workplace romances and the hope that things will improve once the song’s protagonist finishes grad school. The quieter songs seem to resonate a little more forcefully than the rockier ones. As Samson leads us poetically through a landscape of bruised dreams, broken glass and frozen sidewalks, he manages to hold out hope for a tomorrow filled with dignity, value and merit—so much emotion in so few words. –James Bennett

Hidden Trees
Black Tent Press
Street: 08.30.11
Kohwi = Small Black + Milosh
When I think of electronic music as a genre, groups such as Daft Punk and Crystal Castles come to mind. Stuff I can pretend to dance to. Kohwi sounds nothing like that. Under the moniker of Kohwi, Cory Levinson creates electronic music related to most electro artists in medium only. At first, Hidden Trees comes off as disjointed and almost irritating, with musical ideas constantly changing outside of typical song structures and lots of weird noises. Organically morphing beats swell in and out of vast echoing soundscapes, splashed with haunting underwater pianos, bits of conversation and sparse singing. The closest Hidden Trees gets to a pop sensibility is on my favorite song, “Hobbies,” a multilayered track with a stripped-down chillwave vibe. This sonic universe is a refreshing break from the electro-pop or indie-pop that I was actually expecting this to be. My only gripe: With the creepy ‘50s sample and hip-hop beat of “Play With Me,” I really thought that track was an accidental Hieroglyphics song thrown in the mix. –Cody Kirkland

Mind Spiders
Dirtnap Records
Street: 02.21
Mind Spiders = Jay Reatard + Cold Cave
Eleven months ago, Mind Spiders released a garage-pop album reminiscent of a Mean Jeans release. It was simple and straightforward, and aside from the sci-fi keyboard, it was pretty traditional garage-pop. With this new release, they have added a distinct post-punk sound to their garage-pop songs. The two drummers have lost their visceral sound and instead sound like a drum machine. The sci-fi keyboards now upstage the guitar and have drastically changed the texture of the songs. They have taken this album in an exciting direction, and definitely show growth. It isn’t the most complex album, but it is dark and fun. –Cody Hudson

Napalm Death
Century Media
Street: 02.28
Napalm Death = Terrorizer + Extreme Nose Terror + Repulsion
While Repulsion generally gets the credit for creating grindcore—which is a debatable subject of its own—it’s Napalm Death that made it beyond huge, resulting in instant respect when the name Napalm Death is muttered. Utilitarian feels like an amalgamation of their last two full-lengths, Smear Campaign and Time Waits for No Slave. Among the hyper-blasting of longtime skinsman Danny Herrera, we have the trademark razor-sharp, eardrum-bursting buzzsaw guitar riffing, all backed by Barney Greenway’s ever-present, machine-like screams. Utilitarian is Napalm Death at its most mechanized, but retains the grindcore ferocity everyone loves: Listen to “Collision Course,” “Opposites Repellent” and “Blank Look About Face.” Above everything, the album is cohesively fluid, but is built upon cynic-suppressing strength. After a few spins, you’ll remember every brutal piece of this grind buffet. There is, after all, only one Napalm Death. –Bryer Wharton

Nikki Lane
Walk of Shame
Street: 01.01
Nikki Lane = Lydia Loveless + Nick 13 + Miss Derringer + Tin Star
Understatement is a hard attribute to make work in music, a world full of over-the-top bombast, but Nikki Lane glides through each alt-country tune on this album with ease, delivering elegant lyrics along with talented vocals with just enough rasp to tickle the eardrum. Evenly paced tempos give each song the time to accomplish everything they can, without the feeling of being rushed. You won’t find a hootenanny here; you’ll find atmospheric country tales of broken hearts and lonely days. It’s interesting that so many tropes of country music are hear on Walk of Shame, but very little is suggestive of pop or even traditional country. “Hard Livin’” has an almost honky-tonk feel, but it still comes across as very original, with intertwining organ and steel guitar. The first rule of great country music is that the song is king—any superfluous elements need to be reduced, if not eliminated—and that’s what Walk of Shame is all about. –James Orme

Pretty Good Dance Moves
MAD Dragon/Township
Street: 02.07
Pretty Good Dance Moves = Aqua + Digitalism
Brooklyn-based band Pretty Good Dance Moves is back with their new album, LIMO, a compilation of continuous fun electro pop that has made me a definite new fan of the band. If I could take a day from my childhood and put it in the form of a track, “Movement 2” would be it. Waking up at 7 a.m., eating Pops and watching Saved by the Bell all instantly came to mind when “Movement 2” came in contact with my ears. My next favorite off of LIMO is the sexy, intriguing, epic sounding track, “Movement 4”—it made me feel like a pimp in the days of Shaq! Diverse vocals, great synth use and disco-ish bass lines kept a smile on my face throughout LIMO’s entirety. It’s an album that made me feel like I had been taken into the ‘80s. With its euphoric melodies and creamy vocals, it has something for everyone to enjoy. –Mama Beatz

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Soul Time!
Daptone Records
Street: 12.20.11
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings = The J.B.’s + early Tina Turner
The brilliant vintage soul sounds of the Daptone label have been shaking our asses for 10 years. To celebrate their anniversary, the label has unleashed a few special releases including Soul Time!, a collection of ear-ripping singles, deep rolling B-sides and live favorites from the invigorating showstoppers Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. The Northern soul sounds of “Longer and Stronger” was written for Jones’ 50th birthday in 2006. Jones gets political as she sings, “They can’t take nothing from us/That we ain’t ready to give” on 2002’s funk-heavy B-side, “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” The only new track on the album is the ass-shaking-floor-stomper “New Shoes,” which was written by the handsome Binky Griptite—who wouldn’t love a man named Binky? The collection closes with a gorgeous and impeccable Shuggie Otis cover of “Inspiration Information.” –Courtney Blair

Sharon Van Etten
Street: 02.07
Sharon Van Etten = First Aid Kit + Bon Iver
It’s a gamble for a folk artist to base their compositional canon solely on ballads of gloom and forlornness, but the way Sharon Van Etten belts her sorrow continues to give us a run for our money. On Tramp, Van Etten regales us with more anecdotes of loneliness and woe amidst modest guitar underlays, saddled with minimalistic rhythms (provided by Walkmen drummer Matt Barrick). This results in a sparse instrumental presence, but not to the point of sounding like a bundle of basement demos. The few, polyphonically thicker tracks, such as “We Are Fine” (featuring backup vocals by Zach Condon of Beirut) make the whole album worthwhile, single-handedly. Just imagine drunkenly listening to a girl with the warm, swaying vocals of Neko Case and the downtrodden disposition of Nick Drake. Count the thousand-yard stare you have right now as the album already paying for itself. (The State Room: 03.27) –Gregory Gerulat

Sic Alps
Vedley 7”
Drag City
Street: 01.31
Sic Alps = Psychedelic Horeshit + Small Faces + The Hospitals
Sic Alps’ 2011 epic Napa Asylum was a messy, 24-song album bursting with enough catchy melodies, song ideas and sonic exploration to rival any Nuggets compilation in existence. Vedley, Sic Alp’s under-10 minute, two-song medley of a billion-½ songs, contains more good ideas than most bands have in their entire careers. Remember that lame 2008 argument that these lo-fi bands were using shitty recordings to hide their inability to write songs or compose decent melodies? For Sic Alps, fidelity is not a necessity nor an aesthetic, it is a tool to make some of the most jarring, shrapnel-coated, stereo-panning, guttural sounds ever to come out of two guitars and a busted drum set, all while being totally hummable and downright catchy. –Ryan Hall

Atlantic Records
Street: 01.24
Skrillex = Tchaikovsky + 12th Planet + Uncle Luke
The Grammy-nominated Skrillex has a new EP called Bangarang, and it’s an electronic masterpiece! It felt like a performance beginning to end, from epic tracks like the beautifully dramatic “Summit” featuring the talented Ellie Goulding to the intense, Rasta-fied head-banging track “Kyoto,” featuring savvy Sirah. If I was more sensitive, I’m sure I would have wept at some point. Bangarang is already my first favorite album of the year. The last track, “Skrillex Orchestral Suite,” by Varien, made me feel as if my ears were attending a dubstep ballet when I closed my eyes. To me, it’s his bow at the end of this amazing compilation of music. My favorite track would have to be “Right on Time,” which was produced by Skrillex, 12th Planet and Kill the Noise, which after listening, made me realize these three need to collaborate more fucking often. “Right on Time” made my body hurt in the best way: its hard snare and hypnotizing vocals kept me moving my ass every which way. It’s the best kind of banger! Bangarang is the release I will look for on a friend’s iPod and judge them when it’s not there. It’s a fucking must-buy! –Mama Beatz

Sonic Avenues
Television Youth
Dirtnap Records
Street: 01.31
Sonic Avenues = Ty Segall + Wavves + The Briefs
Montreal’s Sonic Avenues coat their pop punk in just the right amount of dirt and fuzz on their sophomore release, Television Youth. The songs on this guitar-driven, 11-track release are super short and the melodies infectious, but it’s still grimy enough to appeal to fans of garage rock. Admittedly, many of the tracks on Television Youth blend together, as the same basic structures are used throughout the album, but I get the feeling that Sonic Avenues are a band that shine brighter in a rowdy, live setting rather than blasting through your speakers. No tour dates announced for the band yet, but Television Youth left a good enough impression that I hope to see Sonic Avenues before the end of 2012. –Jeanette D. Moses

Starlight Girls
Starlight Girls EP
Street: 01.01
Starlight Girls = Peggy Lee + The Ventures + Bratmobile
Some music just sounds like it is meant to be listened to after dark, and this aptly named group makes that kind of music. From the back alleys of Brooklyn, the Starlight Girls play a blend of lounge, pop rock and jazz with a splash of surf rock. With spacious arrangements highlighting electric organ riffs and simple vocals, most of these songs have an eerie vibe and would make a fitting soundtrack for a sexy costume party. The opening track, “Gossip,” would surely get a crowd dancing ‘60s style, and the jazz number, “Flutterby,” would give the party a more intimate mood. “Wasteland” is the strongest song of the bunch, with a cool piano groove and vocals reminiscent of Karen O. The recording is clean and has a wash of reverb—it sounds like the Starlight Girls recorded this in a warehouse or nightclub, which works, because that’s where I imagine them playing this variety of pop. The Starlight Girls EP fills a musical niche—not for everyday listening, but a good record to put on after hours. –Cody Kirkland

Swahili Blonde
Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink
Neurotic Yell Records
Street: 12.19.11
Gang Gang Dance + This Heat + The Callers +The World/Inferno Friendship Society
Post-punk has long been a depository for overreaching and self-impressed artists to dump their knowledge of esoteric “world” music into. At its best, the incorporation of African polyrhythm or calypso beats of bands like This Heat or Talking Heads grew into something altogether organic and revelatory. At its worst, it felt forced (A Certain Ratio) and at its lowest of the low, exploitive (Vampire Weekend). Swahili Blonde, a southern California band of whom guitar-wiz John Frusciante is a sometimes member, is a clusterfuck of vaguely “ethnic” influences thrown into an open blender. Swahili Blonde layers Eastern European strings, nervous and off-kilter time signatures, a sea-sick dub-heavy rhythm, stabs of an occasional brass section, hypnotic, chattering guitar work and lyrics as idiotically obtuse as the name of the album without any sense of synthesis. The only high point comes in the form of an A-Ha cover. Weird. –Ryan Hall

Hordes of Zombies
Season of Mist
Street: 02.28
Terrorizer = Napalm Death + Extreme Noise Terror + Resistant Culture
Hordes of Zombies is a much-needed death/grind-rager that far surpasses the much-disliked Terrorizer “comeback” album of Darker Days Ahead of 2006. The folks that expect the production on this monster to somehow mirror what the debut World Downfall pummeled audiences with must have earwigs latched onto their brains—the only thing that feels a touch out-of-place compared to the real original deal is that the drumming production sounds a bit less unnerving than Sandoval’s glorious performance on the debut record. What the production misses in Pete “The Feet” makes up for in speed-damning execution of perfection. This new offering jams its foot on your neck and doesn’t let up. There are no slow bits, except maybe the intro track, but that’s a damn good intro track. You’re not escaping this Horde of Zombies. It swings in fast and devours you in what seems like seconds, which is in reality, minutes, and culminating in days or months—because once you hit play, you won’t want to hear anything else. ¬–Bryer Wharton

Various Artists
Platinum Unicorn Collection
Mallabel Music
Street: 12.06.11
Various Artists = Datsik + Rusko + Doctor P
If you’ve been alive the past four years, you will have noticed that dubstep has absolutely exploded. Of course, this comes with good and bad. The good is that electronic music is getting some attention, meaning that your friends are getting into it, and there’re more producers to listen to and DJs to see spin. The bad is that every crappy artist decides to make dubstep, because it has a large audience. As a result, it is getting harder and harder to pick the gems out of the huge turd pile that is dubstep today. Dubstep was originally about the sub-bass, and not much else. Just bass to make your panties wet. In today’s dubstep, that deep bass has been all but eliminated, replaced by the mid-range wobble that seems to show up in every popular dubstep and/or bro-step song made in the US. And I’m sick of it. This compilation is guilty of all of the above, except one thing stands out: admittedly, it doesn’t necessarily suck. Sure, it’s a sound that’s tired and beaten now. But if you’re looking for mid-range wobble and unimaginative bangers, this compilation is probably the best of what the US has got to offer right now. –Jessie Wood

Various Artists
Where Is Parker Griggs?
Alive Naturalsound Records
Street: 01.10
Where is Parker Griggs? = America + Foghat + Savoy Brown
As if to answer its own question, this compilation begins with a blistering single from Radio Moscow called “Open Your Eyes,” which showcases the titular Parker Griggs’ dynamic high-speed guitar tangents. However, from there, things slow down considerably. Ranging from the dark blues of Black Diamond Heavies to the folk rock of Buffalo Killers, Where Is Parker Griggs? sounds like a broadcast from another, occasionally forgotten era in rock music. The Naturalsound division of Alive records signs a diverse collage of raw blues and garage rock, so the focus of this compilation is on bands that have embraced a simple, uncomplicated aesthetic. Most tracks are exclusive to the compilation, and it comes highly recommended for fans of boogie rock and the heavy blues sound. –Henry Glasheen

Living on the Edge of Time
Ultra Records
Street: 01.24
Yuksek = Duck Sauce + Robyn
If you think Yuksek is just another DJ-turned-pop-artist, then you’d be right, but he’s also a classically trained pianist. He’s also French, so he probably doesn’t give a fuck what you think anyway. Living on the Edge of Time is Yuksek’s second album, but his first to be released in America. The music is mostly the electric/dance type of pop that you’d expect from a former DJ, but with interesting piano aspects added in here and there that keep most of it fresh. Tracks “White Keys” and “On a Train” are easily the album’s strong points, though the music video for “On A Train” is total shit. There are rumors that Yuksek will be scheduling a US tour, so if you happen to be interested in seeing him live, keep an eye on his Tumblr ( –Johnny Logan