National CD Reviews

Alkaline Trio
Street: 07.12
Alkaline Trio = Smoking Popes + The Cure + The Lawrence Arms
To celebrate their fifteenth anniversary, the spooky/drunken Chicago punks Alkaline Trio have exhumed the remains of their back catalog to acoustically re-imagine twelve old songs and even threw in two new tracks and a Violent Femmes cover. The end result feels a whole hell of a lot like The Cure’s greatest hits package from a few years ago, which featured some successful and some not-so-successful acoustic reworkings of their biggest hits. The songs that stick closest to the originals translate the best (“Calling All Skeletons,” “Clavicle”) while spookified versions of older songs will leave some fans cringing (“This Could Be Love,” “Private Eye”). The new songs are a bit lacking, particularly the repetitive, annoying “Olde English 800,” though the cover of the Violent Femmes’ “I Held Her In My Arms” is decent. This one is strictly for big, big fans of the Trio. –Ricky Vigil

All Shall Perish
This is Where It Ends
Nuclear Blast
Street: 07.26
All Shall Perish = Job For A Cowboy + Black Dahlia Murder + serious groove
All Shall Perish fans have been on pins and needles ever since hearing of the departure of guitarist Chris Storey and his writing prowess. But I bid you rejoice, fans: This Is Where It Ends gives us everything the band has mastered, and while it’s not the progressive leap of its predecessor, it’s just as addicting. “Procession of Ashes” has signature dark melody and drums like machine-gun fire, blending seamlessly with multilayered, chanting vocals and speed-picking. “Spineless” is fast enough to break necks, and drummer Adam Pierce can keep up with shredding guitars and continues to impress. “The Past Will Haunt Us Both” has a seriously catchy riff, wonderful use of layered screaming in the breakdown, and a tension-building structure. “In This Life of Pain” is the opus, with half the song dedicated to a heart-shredding piano interlude, thick with darkness, before it explodes into blast beats and one of the best solos on the album. There are hardly any clean vocals compared with Dreamers, except as occasional background harmony. New guitarist Francesco Artusato was a great find with his technical and yet classical influence; in particular, Hernan Hermida’s vocal grooves blend excellently with his style. This album was absolutely worth the hype—and the wait. –Megan Kennedy

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Golden Age
Small Giants Records
Street: 04.19
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour = Dead or Alive + Beach Boys + Motown
The Golden Age has an allure that captivated me from start to finish. With a strong psychedelic undertone, funky drums and charming lyrics, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour takes you on a trip of  soulful proportions. I found myself unknowingly tapping my foot to “Runner”,” which is definitely my favorite track on the album., with self- reflecting lyrics, horns, and drums with an attitude that enthralled me., I couldn’t help but hit the repeat button. The album as a whole is pure funk genius. You could play it at a BBQ, in your car, at the club;, where ever good music is needed, really—, it’s versatile, funky goodness. –Mama Beatz

Big Business
Quadruple Single
Gold Metal
Street: 07.26
Big Business = Melvins + Torche + Tweak Bird
Over the years, Big Business have earned a reputation for their brand of sludgey, stonery, loud, poppy weirdness. The original two man wrecking crew of Coady Willis and Jared Warren so perfected this weirdness that they were absorbed into the lineup of the legendary Melvins in 2006, and Big Business’ stock has been rising ever since. With the addition of guitarist Toshi Kasai in 2008 and Scott Martin earlier this year, the band has become an unstoppable “power quartet.” Released on their newly formed Gold Metal Records, Quadruple Single is just that: four songs strong enough to be their own single. This is standard Big Business, which is to say loud, thick and weird. “Guns” features only six words repeatedly grunted from behind a syrupy wall of noise: “Guns are better than everything else.” If that sounds like something you’d be into (and why wouldn’t it?), you owe it to yourself to spend 17 minutes with Quadruple Single. –Ricky Vigil

Big D & the Kids Table
For the Damned, the Dumb and the Delirious
Street: 07.05
Big D = Suicide Machines + Mighty Mighty Bosstones + Dropkick Murphys
It’s hard to maintain interest in a genre as stagnant as ska (or maybe I’m just old and out of the loop), but these Boston boys have never let me down. After the weird ska-punk-bubble-soul of 2009’s Fluent in Stroll and the heavy reggae style of 2007’s Strictly Rude, For the Damned has been touted as a return to the band’s punk rock roots. More than just that, this album is a showcase of everything that Big D does well. There’s seriously something here for every kind of Big D fan: energetic skankers for the kids (“Clothes Off”), Boston bar punk (“Best of Them All”), slow-rolling mutant reggae (“Roxbury”) and thrashy ragers (“Brain’s-a-Bomb”). Vocalist David McWane’s relaxed delivery sounds like a less mumbly version of Tim Armstrong’s signature drawl and the horns are strong but never overwhelming. More than just ska and more than just punk, Big D and the Kids Table are at the top of their game with For the Damned, the Dumb and the Delirious. (Utah State Fairpark: 08.06) –Ricky Vigil

Closer to Closed
Street: 08.16
Braid = Hey Mercedes + The Promise Ring + Sunny Day Real Estate
You might not be aware of it, but there’s something of a “traditional” emo revival going on right now. Bands like CSTVT, Algernon Cadwallader and Grown Ups are taking influence from the sentimental and spazzy indie/punk of '90s bands like Cap’n Jazz, Texas Is the Reason and Braid and doing awesome things. Did this pseudo-revival have any bearing on Braid’s decision to reform to record these four songs? Who cares--Closer to Closed is great, and that’s all that matters. This EP finds Braid at a more mellow place--they’ve been broken up for 12 years, after all--but as soon as Bob Nanna’s voice hits on “Do Over” this just plain feels like Braid. I’ve seriously listened to “The Right Time” about thirty times in the few weeks I’ve had access to this EP, and I could probably listen to it five times in a row right now--it’s one of my favorite Braid songs sung by Chris Broach. The guitars and the drums are subdued, but they work well together, subtly weaving around each other throughout the EP. If your conception of emo has nothing to do with eyeliner or if you miss the ‘90s style of indie rock, Closer to Closed is for you. –Ricky Vigil

Cold Comes to Claim
People of Paper
Street: 06.14
Brontosarus = Eels + Lusk
Brontosaurus is composed of the multi-instrumental duo of Nicholas Kelley and Nicholas Papaleo, and the two Nick’s are all about making experimental low- key indie pop. Their debut EP, Cold Comes to Claim, is six tracks that are full of excellence. Think of a dusty version of Failure on painkillers. The band writes slow-tempo songs that mix in more elements and textures then most indie pops bands could ever thinkimagine. But the thing that stands out most about Brontosaurus is they have an organic, tough edge to them that pushes the songs, so they never loose energy or get dull. Plus, the drum breakdown on track four, “Designed and Disabled,” is probably one of the coolest things I have heard in a very long time. These two dudes have a lot of potential and I’m interested to hear where future releases will take them. –Jon Robertson

Cerebral Ballzy
Adult Swim
Street: 07.26
Cerebral Ballzy = Circle Jerks + early Clit 45 + Black Flag + Dead Boys
As they pounded through Salt Lake last June, Cerebral Ballzy planted this nasty, ’80s hardcore-styled stink bomb that’s ready to give you an ear infection. This self-titled release harks back to the caustic Keith Morris days of Black Flag with songs about skating and doing drugs. Vocalist Honor Titus shouts simple, catchy choruses that will get stuck in your head, such as “Office Rocker! Office Rocker!” (if you say it aloud, you can catch the pun). In terms of instrumentation, the guitarists stick to the tried and true method of strumming power chords as ferociously as possible while drummer Abe Sanabria alternates between minimal rock beats and fast motherfucking D-beats. The guitarists will throw in a simple lead or two, like in the opener “On The Run” and “Don’t Look My Way,” but nothing too fancy. If you want a good soundtrack to drink Kamchatka and skate to, pick this up and mack on some broads. –Alexander Ortega

City of Ships
Minor World
Translation Loss/Sound Study
Street: 07.19
City of Ships = … Trail of Dead + Burning Brides + Dredg
There’s more than enough interesting alt-fuzz-rock on Minor World to keep both the shoegaze-indie gals and the heavy-rock guys happy. “Clotilde” opens the album honorably, with melodic hooks, big guitars and intelligent ambience. After my first listen, I wanted to classify this album as another attempt to rewrite Far’s Water & Solutions, but this really isn’t the case. Contemporary bands seem to be more and more afraid of juxtaposing quiet songs with loud songs these days, worried that people will just skip one or the other. But City of Ships does well finding a palatable balance, or palatalance, on Minor World. There are certainly moments of unnecessary, borderline whiney musicianship, but City of Ships navigates around these emo whirlpools skillfully. One could mosh to the aggressive “Tantric Engineer,” then step side-to-side, head down, holding hands with that significant other to “Darkness at Noon.” It’s a pleasant surprise. –Andrew Roy

Crystal Antlers
Two-Way Mirror
Recreation Ltd.
Street: 07.12
Crystal Antlers = Les Savy Fav + Comets On Fire + Flamin’ Groovies
Crystal Antlers have always shown a lot of promise and have really had an exciting buzz about them since they formed in 2006, having the explosive energy to be a serious psych-rock contender for the long term. With this album, they come really close, but still manage to miss the mark. The fact that they soldier on with a revolving door of lineup changes doesn’t help solidify their messy sound (vocalist/bassist Jonny Bell is the only original member). They open up this album with a hard, fast rock number full of circus-style keys, not really exemplary of their sound, which feels like a misstep. However, while it feels like they stumble out of the gate, they really hit their fuzzy stride after a few songs, and really seem earnest about showing their range with songs like “Fortune Telling,” a beautifully done melodic piece, and “Knee Deep.” I suggest skipping to track No. 3, “Summer Solstice,” and playing through to the end. Still expecting great things from this band. –Mary Houdini

Street: 06.07
Cults = Love Like Fire + Neko Case + Fiery Furnaces
There’s something really innocent and satisfying about Cults’ major-label self-titled release. Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin seamlessly use drum loops, glockenspiel, synths and electric guitars to create a sound that is at once a ’60s pop throwback and a modern-day dance party playlist contender. “Go Outside,” a track that blew up on the Internet last year, is infectious, insanely danceable and sweeter than poisoned Kool-Aid. All that sugar doesn’t always spill over into the lyrical content, though. While Follin’s voice is flitting over the songs like a child playing hopscotch, her themes are sometimes heartbreaking, depressing and as dark as the band’s namesake. –CG

The Cynics
Spinning Wheel Motel
Get Hip Recordings
Street: 08.02
The Cynics = (R.E.M. + early Rolling Stones) – skill and originality
The Cynics have apparently been making loud rock music in garages and dive bars in Pittsburgh for a couple decades. The progressions are straight formula; no surprises, no risks, and nothing interesting. I honestly listened through this album only three times because I could take no more, and it left me only with questions. Why do I have to do this? Who has been buying this music for the last 20 years? When did it become desirable to play your instrument the exact same as when you were learning to play it? Why would you record an album when you had nothing to say or offer? –CG

Earth Crisis
Neutralize the Threat
Century Media
Street: 07.12
Earth Crisis = Earth Crisis
The Syracuse straight-edge warriors are back with their second release in the past two years, and what’s old is new again, and what’s new is being mimicked by the old on their latest record. There are moments of Neutralize that are reminiscent of Gomorrah’s Season Ends, in either the sound or the way that album branched out musically from genre tropes. Unfortunately, more of the record feels like a rehash of derivative metalcore from the present and falls squarely in mediocre territory. Credit should be given where credit is due, and Earth Crisis, particularly Karl Buechner’s lyrical content, hasn’t strayed far from their bread and Earth Balance butter. However, in the post-’90s world, Earth Crisis seem to be playing a caricature of themselves. Political ideas grow and change with wisdom, but it seems like Earth Crisis is stuck in the cartoonish politics that informed their releases from over a decade ago. Neutralize the Threat is not a stinker—it hits hard at times, but it’s not the fist-pumping, thought-provoking treatise that it could have been, either. –Peter Fryer

Lost in Transition
Fat Wreck Chords
Street: 06.21
Ellwood = Sublime -– Rancid
Forgive me, but I’ve never liked Sublime’s “What I Got,” especially compared to the rest of their catalog. Ellwood sound like they’re trying to rewrite an album’s worth of “What I Got.” That may be a good thing for some, but I see it as a squandered opportunity to either tap into the hard groove of roots reggae or to conjure a bit of Brad Nowell’s charisma. Lost in Transition is just that: an attempt at spanning the transition between pop and reggae that doesn’t fully succeed at either. –Nate Housley

Erland and the Carnival
Full Time Hobby
Street: 03.29
Erland and the Carnival = The Zombies x The Kinks
It’s almost a dictum of folky psych-pop that the band begin to experiment. The options then are to grow blindly self-indulgent and mistake prolific with creative, or to stick to what people like in a pop song to begin with, while adding some interesting new flourishes. Erland and the Carnival manage to do the latter, building off their debut with a full-length that proves folk music can be tuneful while taking chances. The opening track, “So Tired in the Morning,” lurches forward in 5/4 over a Kinks guitar riff, while first single, “Map of an Englishman,” opens with a spooky funhouse organ. While the album doesn’t drone on in tweedy self-absorption, the band could have pared back the runtime a bit. After a false ending two-thirds of the way through, the songs start to bleed together. At least it’s not self-indulgent. –Nate Housley

French Horn Rebellion
The Infinite Music of French Horn Rebellion
Once Upon A Time Records
Street: 05.24
French Horn Rebellion = Passion Pit + The Go Find + NightWaves
This album is what would happen if Chromeo and MGMT had dirty, dirty sex, and created a somewhat autistic, bipolar, confused-about-their-sexuality child. In a good way, but only at times. The first thought I had while listening to it was that this band is all over the place. In one song alone (“Last Summer”), there are definite influences of The Beach Boys, The Police, The Smiths, The Shins, Death Cab For Cutie, Joy Division, Kraftwerk and Aeroplane, with a liberal dash of disco, video-game pop, electro and synthpop, all mashed up like some dysfunctional but lovable child. It’s good, but it samples and borrows so heavily that it’s hard to find a common tone or sound in the album as a whole, and makes for pretty scattered and eclectic listening. Often, the complete sound of the song will change in the chorus or bridge. One thing is, this album is far from boring. –Jessie Wood

Foster The People
Street: 05.23
Foster The People = Friendly Fires + Harlem Shakes
Remember how quickly MGMT got annoying? Everywhere I fucking went, I was forced to hear “Kids” or “Electric Feel”.” Well, Foster The People has that same vibe going for them. Radio-hit “Pumped Up Kicks” is way catchy, but the rest of the album is pretty uninspired. It sounds like Maroon 5 trying to rip off Phoenix. With all of its Cut/Copy breathy fucking synth lines, this album is poised to be just popular enough to piss me off this summer with continuous radio and party play. As much as this Maroon 5- sounding motherfucker pisses me off, I suppose worse things could get tons of radio play ... Like Nickelback. –Cody Hudson

Fuel Injected .45
Past Demo-ns
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 06.14.11
Fuel Injected .45 = The Melvins + Tad + Therapy? + Kyuss
Ani Kyd is tough as nails. She had a fantastic solo record, played guitar in Thor and fronted Fuel Injected .45 … and since the latter never released a record, Jello Biafra and company decided to give some old demos the Alternative Tentacles once-over by releasing ’‘em all as one blistering album. Ignore that goofy hot-rod cover -art, cuz this ain’t no rockabilly nonsense … this is bone rattling, low-end grunge skuzz, bred by the Deep Six compilation and the doomy climes of the Pacific Northwest. Check the thunder-groove of “Reload Diablo Reload,” or the re-appropriated Kyuss riff on “Death Walk.” It’s not always cohesive (an assemblage of demos rarely is) and occasionally slips into clumsiness (“Pure Evil” bleats like a throwaway Courtney Love number and “Lethal,” with its “tongue like a scorpion tail” refrain, sounds silly) but numbers like “Alright” are certified ragers … and Kyd could take you in a fight any day. –Dylan Chadwick

The Greenhornes
Boscobel Blues
Third Man Records
Street: 2010
The Greenhornes = The Gories + The Kinks
This release might be hard to come by, but if you find it, you should add it to your collection. It is a collection of demos originally recorded for East Grand Blues EP mixed by Jack White, and he really does the demos justice. Sometimes The Greenhornes come off a bit too Wolfmother-esque for my taste;, however, the rough cuts of these songs are far less Wolfmother and far more Black Keys. The kitschy harmonies and rough production hearken back to a simpler time, very reminiscent of The Sonics. The high point of the seven-7 song EP is definitely the cover of James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy”,”; definitely a fitting end to an extremely decent release. –Cody Hudson

The Heat Tape
Raccoon Valley Recordings
Red Scare
Street: 02.15
The Heat Tape = The Copyrights + Dear Landlord + Titus Andronicus
This is the debut album from the Heat Tape, a band fronted by Brett Hunter of The Copyrights and Dear Landlord. It’s an incredibly rough recording, but I think the production matches the songs wonderfully. The listener is treated to twelve 12 blistering garage rock tracks that are very sing-along and anthem-like, but manage to still clock in at about two minutes apiece. This sounds like it was performed by people that met about a half hour before they pressed “record” on the 4-track, but I mean that in the best way possible. The songs are great and really catchy. The opening track, “Spend It,” sounds like something you’d want to listen to while running and carrying a large flag. Much of the rest has an almost 1960s girl group feel to it, but only if the ladies in the band had been replaced by twentysomething guys from southern Illinois. In short, it’s good. Buy it. –James Bennett

Helms Alee
Hydra Head Records
Street: 06.21
Helms Alee = Kylesa + Melissa Auf der Maur + Botch
Helms Alee is the kind of metal band that makes you think, “Jeez, there really are a ton of solid, original bands I’ve never heard of out there.” This album really is like a big math rock musical about a metal band. Helms Alee is the brainchild of Ben Verellen (These Arms Are Snakes, Verellen Amplifiers). You want to talk smart metal? Tracks like “Elbow Grease” and “8/16” are demonstrations of Helms Alee’s diverse taste: from straightforward, hard-hitting gut-metal, to lessons in rhythmic rock. Weatherhead offers plenty of breaks for your ears as well. “Music Box” and “Anemone of the Wound” both set a mood worthy of any long drive up the canyon at sunset. Repetitive, calming instrumentation is only good for so long, and Helms Alee knows that. Whether it’s loud, quiet, or somewhere in between, they understand how to keep the music fresh. Here’s a solid, original band you’ve now heard of. –Andrew Roy

Music is Awesome
Boys Noize Records
Street: 07.11
Housemeister = Boys Noize + Gesaffelstein
The intro right in the very beginning of thise album prepared me for what I thought would have been a crazy ride of electro goodness. I was bamboozled. I found the album to be exceptional at times, and that’s where it ends. It wasn’t very intriguing with it’s incessant, repetitive synths and beats lacking clout. There wasn’t much depth to any of the tracks, it felt like I needed to be on molly to properly appreciate the EP and found myself only getting into a track at the very end, which I felt it is where it picked up and then left you hanging. Not to say the production was poorly done. The tracks were well produced, but then again, I wouldn’t expect any less from Boys Noize Records. The real problem here was the lack of emotion, feeling or rather, a direction. It soundeds like a video game soundtrack to me, not an album I would bump alone to listen for pleasure. I believe Housemeister was going for a certain sound and tried to replicate it, but unfortunately, fell short.  –Mama Beatz

I Set My Friends on Fire
Astral Rejection
Street: 06.21
I Set My Friends on Fire = From First to Last + Hawthorne Heights + Enter Shikari
I Set My Friends on Fire are a bastard, snotty, spazzed-out version of Refused, continuing the trend of mixing techno beats with hardcore that began with 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come. Now, ISMFOF are nowhere near as good as Refused, but they are pretty good. They have a knack for making every song original enough to not blend in with the next track, and their use of electronics mixed with fast metalcore on songs “Infinite Suck” and “Excite Dyke” are top notch. They also do well when things are slowed down, and track six, “Developer, the Horn” shows the band’s clean and atmospheric side. Based on the 11 tracks of Astral Rejection, I think this just might be the real shape of punk to come. (Utah State Fairpark: 08.06) –Jon Robertson

James Yuill
Movement In A Storm
Moshi Moshi Records
Street: 06.14.10
James Yuill = Her Space Holiday + Postal Service + a lesser José Gonzales
Known for remixes as much as his “folktronic” project, U.K.’s James Yuill seems like someone that who has lofty goals, and is working really hard to achieve them. These songs are sweet, and have a sparse quality that shows careful, concise songwriting and well-crafted, beats, but also seemthey also seem to have a stifled, strangled feel to them. The delicacy with which Yuillhe treats his songs and songwriting is definitely commendable, but the project lacks a certain fire which makes this release something that makes me just want to go to sleep. At this point, he’s killing his own project with his integrity and “artistic vision” or something. The potential is there, but I’d check out future projects to see if he’ll let his hair down a little. –Mary Houdini

Jeff the Brotherhood
We Are the Champions
Infinity Cat Recordings
Street: 06.21
Jeff The Brotherhood = early Kings of Leon + Descendents + Beautiful New Born Children
There’s nothing complex about Jeff The Brotherhood or their new album, We Are The Champions. But that’s not just a good thing—it’s fantastic. This is pure, American garage rock, no matter what anybody says. It’s not studio polished or auto tuned, nor is it pensive. It’s just loud, fast, blues-and-punk-informed electric guitar over tight drumming. Made up of two brothers (neither of whom is named Jeff) and based in Nashville, the best part of this record is how natural it feels. It’s like the Black Keys made a snotty teenage punk album or the Beautiful New Born Children slowed things down occasionally. These guys seem to be totally at home in the material and never try to make it more than it needs to be. My favorites so far are “Shredder,” the lazy cruiser “Diamond Way” and the sing-along “Wastoid Girl.” I hear they destroy live, too. –Rio Connelly

John Maus       
We Must Become Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves   
Ribbon Music
Street: 06.28.11
John Maus =: Joy Division + Human League - New Order
After listening to this nearly five times, I’m still left feeling underwhelmed. Maus’ music really is pleasant enough; recalling early Human League and New Order (barring the vocals) to a degree, but the nearly unintelligible lyrics do little to compleiment it. John Maus’ voice is so filtered and buried beneath his synths that it is near-impossible to discover what it really sounds like. In a music world where too many studio tricks and voice manipulation areis alarmingly becoming the norm, the novel approach of trying something new is refreshing, and certainly, Maus’ music is enjoyable and even intriguing (like on the catchy “Believer” and “Quantum Leap”), but that changes almost instantly when his voice comes into the mix. The banally repetitive lyrics of “Cop Killer” (just wait until Ice-T and Coco hear about this--—and then realize it isn’t even a cover!) and especially the annoying “Matter of Fact” greatly mar their music. There is some slight reprieve in the ballad “Hey Moon,” written by and featuring Molly Nilsson, mainly because there is at least that much more of an interesting vocal introduced to the mix. But then again, Maus messes too much with what is his first duet, and Nilsson is left sounding like she’s drowning in the sound, too. The joy of the “Don’t You Want Me”-ish “Keep Pushing On” quickly follows suit as Maus’ droning vocal begins to and then finally does sabotage it. –Dean O Hillis

Larry and His Flask
All That We Know
Silver Sprocket
Street: 06.21
Larry and His Flask = Old Man Markley + Mumford & Sons + Legendary Shack Shakers + Pine Hill Haints
Rootsy, bluesy, smart and rockin’—four nicer things to say about a record I couldn’t come up with. “When the time has come to take my last breath, I hope I don’t die in no hospital bed.” Lyrics like that give All that We Know this incredible feeling, like this was the band’s last shot at recording an album, so they just went all out. However, they created such an amazing and eclectic record—the point is that they did just that, with each track as good as or better than the previous, and each having its own personality. The even stream from bluegrass to jazz to punk, and so much more, challenges the listener to accept that, no matter what you call it, this is perfectly crafted music. With radiant vocal harmonies, versatile, searing guitar and rhythms that span from jaunty to haunting and banjo to spare, this Oregon combo has my jaw dropped by their skilled playing and creativity that is rarely my privilege to hear. This band may be the sole reason for me buying a Warped Tour ticket this year. (Utah State Fairpark: 08.06) –James Orme

Las Kellies
Fire Records
Street: 07.05
Las Kellies = Delta 5 + Lizzy Mercier Descloux + The Raincoats
Overlook the memo mentioning the all-girl, post-punk-garage-revival brewing in Latin America? Lucky for us, the ladies of Las Kellies are here to bring the States up to speed. Las Kellies are three ass-kicking Argentinean ladies, Ceci Kelly, Betty Kelly & Sil Kelly, channeling the spirits of Ari Up (The Slits) and Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex) on their self-titled third effort. The trio even hired The Slits’, Cut producer, Dennis “Blackbeard” Bovell, and the result is a stunning album of fast-paced minimal rhythm. “Prince In Blue” leaps into action with Delta 5-esque basslines and Slits-y attitude. “Keep the Horse“ and “Bling Bling” are drenched in Gang Of Four-esque guitar jolts combined with Cibo Matto’s vocal stylings. The ladies have done their homework, covering ESG’s “Erase You” flawlessly and do their best B-52s impression on the instrumental “Cous Cous,” which would fit perfectly sandwiched between “Planet Claire” and “Rock Lobster.” −Courtney Blair

Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math
Favorite Gentlemen
Street: 05.06
Manchester Orchestra = Queens of the Stone Age + Weezer + the Pixies
Having been unfamiliar with Atlanta-based Manchester Orchestra, I was unprepared for the rock epic that awaited me the first time I played Simple Math. From the album’s quiet confessional of an introduction with “Deer” to the rollicking drunken drawl of “Pensacola” or the darkly choral “Virgin,” I listened and followed the violent, yet reflective ups and downs of singer/songwriter Andy Hull. Heavy, distorted guitar yelps and drones over tight, echoing drums combined with Hull’s unique, half-nasal Frank Black twinge started to suck me in by the third listen. Backing it all up is symphonic strings, the occasional horn and even a seemingly large chorus of children on the operatic, The Wall-reminiscent “Virgin.” This is stoner rock that’s serious about its existential crisis. Other standout tracks include the titular “Simple Math,” with its eerie verse and “April Fool,” with its catchy hook. The guitar layering here is excellent—darkly complex sometime at times and overbearingly dense at others—but it’s the vocal melodies that make Simple Math really rise above. I didn’t know Manchester Orchestra before this record, but I’ll be keeping my eyes for on them from now on. –Rio Connelly

Mariachi El Bronx
Mariachi El Bronx II
ATO Records
Street: 08.02
Mariachi El Bronx = Mariachi + The Bronx
I’m almost convinced that this band cannot get any better than they are on this album. This is a pretty bold statement, I’m aware, but when the album starts with a song about “Four different lovers and 48 roses, I need a confessional that never closes,” it’s obvious that they know what the fuck they are doing. It blows my mind that the guy crooning into the mic with strings, trumpets and accordion backing him up is the same guy shredding eardrums in The Bronx. As The Bronx, they are black band T-shirt-clad hardcore kids, and as Mariachi El Bronx, they look stunner-hot in traditional mariachi getup—black, of course. There is absolutely nothing bad about this album. There is an instrumental song with occasional whoops and hollers entitled “Mariachi El Bronx,” and “Map Of The World,” a song for the ladies, rules as well. The album slows down (as much as mariachi can be slow) near the end, but delivers just as excellently. The whole album is the smoothest, most heart-wrenching shit around. −Kyla G.

Marianne Faithfull
Horses and High Heels
Naïve Records
Street: 06.28
Marianne Faithfull = Goddess, or just “God” (literally, since she played God on Absolutely Fabulous)
There are many superlatives to describe a legendary performer, but in the case of Marianne Faithfull—now in the fifth decade of a truly remarkable career—perhaps the most accurate would be: survivor. Faithfull’s intriguing 19th album, Horses And High Heels, recorded in New Orleans with producer Hal Willner, is truly a blend of styles. From spoken word (the Shangri-Las’ “Past, Present and Future”) and intriguing balladry (The Gutter Twins’ “The Stations,” R. B. Morris’ “That’s How Every Empire Falls”) to full-on rock n’ roll (Jackie Lomax’s “No Reason”), each song sounds like an original composition rather than a cover. Even more intriguing are the four cuts that Faithfull herself co-wrote, starting with the haunting “Why Did We Have to Part,” where the listener feels both the sentiment and the irony, because it is apparent that Faithfull has lived this. “Prussian Blue” is instantly hummable, and Willner has surrounded her with some great local talent—even Lou Reed shows up on guitar. The elegant balladry of the title track is nicely balanced with the joyful—and surprisingly optimistic—“Eternity,” while the reflective closer, “The Old House,” boasts lyrics written specifically for her by Irish playwright Frank McGuinness. –Dean O Hillis

Mike & the Masis
The Rudest
Hightower Records
Street: 03.15
Mike & the Masis = Speakeasy + Real Eyes + a dive bar
My mom always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all. Fuck that. Look, this band isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but The Rudest smacks of amateur night at some local watering hole. Derivative bass lines, basic drums and vocals by, as far as I can tell, like, five different people, all doing their best impressions, end up creating a soul album that is what a soul album should never be: spastic. There’s even the prerequisite cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” including a decent rap verse, but nothing else worthy of any other version I’ve ever heard. Other moments have a Llatin flare that seemss uncomfortable, and still others, like the titular track verge on rock, but nothing sticks out, or even has a good hook. It’s too bad, because some of the musicians involved with this project seem to have a little talent, and the production is clean and professional—there’s just no direction here, nothing to grab onto. –Rio Connelly

Mrs. Magician
There is No God
Thrill Me
Street: 10.31.10
Mrs. Magician = The Velvet Underground + Love Battery + Spacemen 3
Here are two cuts of adamantly lo-fi surf-style jangle, like the NME’s C-86 tape filtered through a smoked- out San Diego garage, and one of 'em is about dropping hallucinogens with lesbians. Fantastic, fuzzed out vocals, a little bit of a Jesus and Mary Chain melody arrangement … and when “There is No God” starts to stretch itself out a little bit, when the subtle keyboard plinking sets in and settles nicely into that drawling sprawl, that cooing loop that tickles into ethereality that’s just the right mix of Goo- era Sonic Youth and Galaxie 500 ... damn. Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. And to think, all this brilliance is all just a teaser for their forthcoming full- length, Pity Party Animal. Cop this, along with the Spells EP, and play it until your eyes are red, you incessantly hug everything and you stop saying your prayers … or pose later. –Dylan Chadwick

Pepper Rabbit
Red Velvet Snow Ball
Street: 08.09
Pepper Rabbit = MGMT’s Congratulations + Grizzly Bear
Where their debut was often aimless and overly precious, this LP is more focused and endlessly inventive. Layering whirring synths over prim chamber music and pillowy harmonies, the instrumentation is on par with the songwriting. Where many songwriters try to shortcut catchiness by being derivative, Pepper Rabbit craft songs that break suddenly in new directions, conjuring melodies seemingly out of nowhere. Pepper Rabbit have settled into a sound—each song sounds distinctly their own, without sounding like all the others. Don’t be surprised if the overall pleasantness of the record draws you in, only to ensnare you into many repeat listens with its twists and turns. –Nate Housley

Thee Physical
Lovepump United
Street: 07.19
Pictureplane = Yeasayer + Cut Copy + Martin Solveig
This is easily the catchiest album I’ve heard in a long while. The songs roll off your ears like a sickly-sweet Popsicle on a sticky summer day, and yet, it is not devoid of substance. There is real emotion in these songs, which makes it worth listening to more than once. The album is incredibly synth- driven and every song sounds easy, like they were created in instant bursts of inspiration instead of the grueling day-to-day reality of creating art. Although there is a definite sound to the album, the diversity of influences is astounding. Each song has elements of all sorts of different genres, from trance to electro to witch house to disco to new wave to synthpop to glam rock. Travis Egedy internalized '80s pop and '90s rave music as a child and grew up to present us with this. “Real Is A Feeling” is the standout track, perfect for getting drunk in the park on a beautiful summer day. In fact, the whole album is good for that. –Jessie Wood

Street: 05.23
Plantorock = (Annie Lennox + Jarboe) x X Fischerspooner + The Knife
There was a time when music genres was were meaningless. Nerds made ska-influenced new wave (Oingo Boingo), made electronic new wave tape loop messes (Laurie Anderson) and rock session players made diesel-techno-pop (Thomas Dolby). It was like a third-3rd grade art class, with everyone trying out every medium before they sort of settled down and started coloring in the lines, or sticking to their genres. This sophomore effort by Janine Rostron (the Knife) harkens hearkens back to those days of musical anarchy, with touches of the aforementioned artists and so much more, from jazz to electronica. Bizarre vocal pitching within the songs belie or even parody notions of gender on songs like “Doorway,” “I Am Your Man” and “Janine”,” this latter seemingly a warning to the artist from another personality. The standout track, “”9,” and “The Breaks” plays on gloomy, operatic themes with a complex instrumentation and soaring vocals. Not a rocking album, despite the name, but a somber experiment well worth a listen. –Madelyn Boudreaux

Primal Scream
Screamadelica Live
Eagle Rock/Kayos Productions
Street: 05.31.11
Primal Scream = The Rolling Stones + The Byrds + Happy Mondays
Screamadelica wasn’t just Primal Scream’s breakout album, elevating them from jangly '60s pop worship into a full- blown acid-drenched danceability —…it was one of the ‘90s' most important records, and the “classic album” live treatment reveals its potency even a couple decades later. Sparing nothing to recreate its kaleidoscopic grandeur, the band employs a full gospel choir (those incredible backing vocals on “Movin’ On Up” and “Come Together”), brass section and specially made background visuals (for the accompanying DVD). It’s a breathtaking live performance, and even longtime fans who’ve listened to the record thousands of times (like this writer) will find plenty of delicious nuances scattered throughout (like the infamous Dennis Hopper sample in “Loaded,” which morphs into an extended samba beat, a raucous homage to The Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” or the rave-up added to “Higher Than the Sun”). A fantastic effort in re-visiting a phenomenal album. –Dylan Chadwick

Radical Dads
Mega Rama
Uninhabitable Mansions
Street: 07.12
Radical Dads = Pavement + Los Campesinos!
I bitch an awful lot about indie bands that sound like something shitty I would have listened to in high school., Radical Dads are the glaring exception. They sound like an early Los Campensinos! album in every awesome way possible. This is straight-forward, unabashed indie-rock (back when indie-rock meant Pavement, Built to Spill and The Silver Jews). Sometimes they come off a little bit on the corny side, but for those of you longing for the by-gone era before the ridiculous, convoluted genre names the indie world is prey to came along, this album will be extremely satisfying. Mega Rama also has contagious vocal melodies, over instrumentals that sound like a more upbeat Acrobatic Tenement. –Cody Hudson

The Reaganomics
Lower the Bar
Red Scare
Street: 02.15.11
The Reagaomics = The Vandals + Millencolin + NOFX
This is ultra-melodic punk rock that’s lyrically predicated on the Offspring’s “Cool to Hate.” Admittedly, I can laugh at a song like “Chireland,” which makes fun of faux-Irish pride, and “Ed Hardy” is worth a yuk, but generally, Lower the Bar is 17 tracks of barrel-bottom scraping potshots at wounded duck subjects. A punk band that hates popular things? How refreshing! Alert the presses! Sure, the musicianship is top-notch, water-tight and impossibly infectious, but it can’t mask the maddening staleness of the lyrical fodder … fodder that’s no more clever than anything of the Juggalo ilk. For being such cynics, I’d expect something a little more caustic … but it’s all tame, spit-shined Warped Tour material that wouldn’t offend a soccer mom. Upon listening, people may chuckle, but those with a brain will quickly remember how awesome old Guttermouth was, will dig out Musical Monkey and forget The Reaganomics completely. –Dylan Chadwick

Rosetta West
Street: 01.11
Rosetta West = Soundgarden + Buddy Guy
 First impressions can be important. My first impression of Rosetta West was formed around a photo of Joe Demagore (the songwriter and driving force of the band) playing with a curious raccoon on his front porch. It reminded me of a something my burnout uncle would have on the dashboard of his 1986 F-150 more than it did a band photo, making me think to myself, “‘Mman, this doesn’t look good .... .”’. Rosetta West sounds like a white guy’s blues/psych band with nineties 90s grunge vocals;, i.e., bluesy, occasionally effects- laden guitar riffs flowing over steady, rhythmic drumming and under melodies heavily influenced by Alice in Chains. Joe played guitar, sang vocals, wrote all the songs, and produced the album himself. The music is okay, and at the very least, I respect his passionate efforts. I recommend Rosetta West to anyone who goes to the Blues Jam Night at Burt’s Tiki Lounge. –Mike Abu

Young Turks Records
Street: 06.28
SBTRKT = Sinden + James Blake + Four Tet
SBTRKT’s debut full-length album is pitch perfect, and has guaranteed his place as one of the standout producers of 2011. Sexy, bass-fueled and emotionally resonant, this album is perfect for the commute home after a long day at work or pumping you up for the night out. Aaron Jerome is one of the main players in the new (still largely uncategorized) genre of “bass music,” for lack of a better name, blending his unique style of minimal house, two-step, techno, and dubstep into a captivating soundscape. Sampha shows up on many of the best songs of the album, such as “Hold On,” “Something Goes Right” and “Never Never.” His voice is striking and beautiful, and perfectly complements SBTRKT’s beats. Jessie Ware lends her deep, light voice to bring a female’s touch to the songs “Sanctuary” and “Right Thing To Do.” Yukimi of Little Dragon is featured on the album’s first single, “Wildfire,” and it’s gold, like everything else she touches. On any other album, “Wildfire” would be the best song, hands down. However, this album is so consistent, so cohesive, and so beautiful that there is some stiff competition. –Jessie Wood

Complete Control Sessions EP
Street: 08.16
Scream = Into Another + Dag Nasty + Bad Brains + Fire and Ice-era DYS
Scream was one of the most interesting and inventive hardcore bands, blending fast hardcore à la Government Issue with occasional reggae, to emerge from the second wave of Dischord bands. It’s at one-time drummer Dave Grohl’s Virginia studio where they’ve reunited to craft an EP. Immediately, it plays like a loose jam session. Pete Stahl’s silky vocals (vocals that have lent soulful influence to the likes of Richie Birkenhead and Anthony Keidis) permeate, and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves … but what the hell? Where’s the speed? Sure, “Jammin @ 606” gallops like a breakneck Bad Brains outtake, but the rest sounds a bit … stunted? Perhaps it’s impractical to expect “Search for Employment” played a thousand times over, and age is a factor, but still. It’s not devoid of moments (“Elevate” sports masterful drumming, and the harmonica breakdown in “Get Free” is a nice touch), but ultimately, hardcore kids will be disappointed. –Dylan Chadwick

Shaky Deville
Hot Asphalt
Hobo Light
Street: 03.30
Shaky Deville = Dropkick Murphys + Asmodeus + Nine Pound Hammer + Creepshow (sometimes)
This is the perfect case of a band that doesn’t know quite what it wants to be: the over-the-top, hard- rocking’ bar band, the dark and moody psychobilly band, or the Irish folk punk band. The record starts with a rollicking tune, “Come Out Ye Black and Tan,” has the perfect mix of Irish and heavy punk which got some pretty high hopes from me, and if the records was more of the same, my glowing review would follow, but the record kind of devolves from there into a rock n’ roll shouting match that I feel like I’ve heard to many times before. The stand-up bass adds to the pulse of some of these bar rock tunes, but isn’t enough to save them. The vocals are rough and rowdy, and more than make up for in character than they do inwhat they lack in range and tone. A few gems shine through on Hot Asphalt, but mostly, it’s the bland and boring that prevail. –James Orme

Street Eaters
Rusty Eyes and Hydrocarbons
Plan-It X Records(LP)/Bakery Outlet Records (CD)
Street: 07.12
Street Eaters = early Rainer Maria + (“emo” < “riot grrl”) + Chubby Bunny
There’s something totally snotty about this Berkeley drum/bass two-piece, which is a quality that I love in a garage pop-punk band. Seriously, if you’re going to be in a band where both of you sing and play, then fucking own it and get bratty. This couple operates with ease, and they are good, but also come across as kind of sloppy. They give the impression of not taking themselves too seriously, which makes this album way more fun. In addition to singing about the obvious topics, they also sing about chemistry, which gives them high nerd points in my book, because I love science, and I love bratty nerds. The energy of this is totally lo-fi, danceable, infectious, and seriously worth checking out. –Mary Houdini

Sunshine Factory
Lower Away/Tidal Waves 7”
Culdesac Kids Records
Street: 02.15
Sunshine Factory = Beach Boys + Mason Jennings
With a name like Sunshine Factory, you already have a good idea what you’re going to get with this album. Sure enough, this 7” on cream-colored vinyl boasts a couple of sun-kissed tunes perfect for high summer. The A side recalls the Beach Boys on vacation in Jamaica, but the flip side takes us to a more modern, puooka shell-strewn beach. Don’t live by the coast? Not a problem, because this factory is making plenty of sunshine. –Nate Housley

They Might Be Giants
Join Us
Street: 07.19
TMBG = R.E.M. + The Vaselines + Guided by Voices
It’s been four years since TMBG released their last adult album, The Else, having spent the remainder of the last decade catering to the children of the fans who knew them from the Flood era. Now, the original indie duo have returned from the playpen with their 15th album, aimed once more at adults. All the ingredients for a great TMBG album are here, but it falls just shy of great. Join Us sounds more like a guide to songs that didn’t make it to previous albums, where each track sounds like it was influenced by their entire discography. The song “2082” sounds like it should be on Mink Car, while “Dog Walker” sounds like a lost track from No!. There are plenty of fantastic songs on here, presented in the standard short-and-sweet fashion TMBG are known for, but four years playing for kids may have put too much rust on the adult writing. –Spencer Ingham

Today is the Day
Pain is a Warning
Black Market Activities/Good Fight Music
Street: 08.16
Today is the Day = Converge + Coalesce + Discharge
For a band that reinvents itself with every album, saying that this is an unexpected but poignant record may sound redundant, but it’s fully correct. Pain is a Warning offers the highest replay value of any of the band’s records. Every song included is highly purposeful and each one not only has its, dare I say, catchy moments, but emotional, gut-wrenching moments, to the point of being somber and downright bone-splittingly scary. There’s a bit of bluesy momentum in tunes like “Wheelin,’” “This is You” and “Pain is a Warning.” Opening cut “Expectations Exceed Reality” is a complete and blissful rager— the drum hits from Curran Reynolds (of Wetnurse) sound like earthquakes, and Ryan Jones’ (also of Wetnurse) bass guitar exemplifies the amazingly distorted guitar-riffing from Today is the Day helmsmen Steve Austin. “Remember to Forget” makes me want to go hide in a corner and contains some of Austin’s most compellingly sung vocals ever. Pain is a Warning goes so far beyond the typical boundaries of what the band has accomplished, and the production value is superbly perfect. Where past records felt like Austin and guest musicians, this lineup feels like a band that’s been creating music for a long time. Pain is a Warning is Today is the Day’s most musically relevant as well as accessible-to-the-masses album ever. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss this release. –Bryer Wharton

Toxic Holocaust
Conjure and Command
Street: 07.19
Toxic Holocaust = Kill ’Em All-era Metallica + Venom + Filth
Toxic Holocaust have returned and, surprisingly, largely continue in the vein of the rock n’ rolly breakdown of “Gravelord” from An Overdose of Death. Conjure and Command opens with the merciless thrasher, “Judgment Awaits You,” and continues with relative speed in “Agony Of of The the Damned,” a scary zombie tune. “Red Winter” and “I Am Disease,” however, demonstrate an almost sludge-meets-Venom style with spurts of thrash for dynamics’ sake. “Nowhere To Run” tears away at your insides with and account of an eerie murderer on your tail and a moderately paced beat, which the drummer speeds up at times in order to complement the anxiety generated by the subject matter. Thematically speaking, Toxic Holocaust continue within their Satanist, post-apocalyptic world full of Road Warrior-like terror. There seems to be an occultist element in the album, though, as “Bitch” deals with the imagery of a woman being burned at the stake for witchcraft. All in all, the evil is rife and fresh. –Alexander Ortega

Ty Segall
Goodbye Bread
Drag City
Street: 06.21
Ty Segall = Moonhearts + Thee Oh Sees
I have yet to come across a Ty Segall release I don’t love (including the weird-ass split he did with Mikal Cronin), and Goodbye Bread is no exception. Melted showed the beginning of a change to his sound. Although I would never describe that album as meek, it did show Ty slowing down a bit. Goodbye Bread takes that sound even further, abandoning much of the four-chord garage-rock that made the first couple albums so charming in favor of a slower, crunchier sound more densely packed with guitar solos. Although this is less aggresive, it is still an incredibly enjoyable album. He has certainly come a long way since Traditional Fools and Epsilons. –Cody Hudson

Vale of Pnath
The Prodigal Empire
Street: 08.09
Vale of Pnath = Decapitated + The Black Dahlia Murder + Pestilence
This release came out of nowhere for me, and damn, am I glad it came my way. Out of all the would-be albums getting promoted to hell and back in the metal world, the awesomely named Vale of Pnath (inspired by the pit in H.P. Lovecraft’s underworld) came to me with little background. There is a brilliant combination of brutal death metal, melodic, tech and other nuances on this album that make Vale of Pnath sound fresh yet rooted and familiar in a way that makes listeners feel they can instantly connect. Performances from every player are pristine: There are crazy guitar leads and soloing, maddening bass-picking, intense death growls and snarls and fast, demonic, human-but-somehow-inhuman drumming coming from Eric W. Brown of Swashbuckle and Destroy Destroy Destroy (these projects never revealed the talent he exhibits here) The Prodigal Empire is perfect, and I mean perfect—production, songs that don’t get old, only better, and an overall fresh and darkly enticing atmosphere. If there is any justice in the world, this album and band will be propelled to death metal fame. –Bryer Wharton

Rule the World + Deathtiny Land
Street: 06.14
Vampillia = Dave Soldier + The Leningrad Cowboys + Philip Glass
Rule the World + Deathtiny Land is 24 tracks supposedly comprising two complete albums (each, according to the liner notes, made up of 24 tracks, which means there should be 48 tracks here, right? But there are only 24. I don’t even pretend to understand … ) by Japan’s “brutal orchestra,” featuring the admittedly annoying vocals of Phychic Yamanashi, along with a conglomeration of instruments,  – according to the mostly incoherent ESL press kit. Yamanashi’s delivery on the few vocal tracks ranges from operatic wailing to muppetMuppet-inspired gibbering to death- metal grunting, with very little in between. With contributions by Jarboe (The Swans) and Merzbow, and recent performances at SXSW, Vampillia clearly has drawn the attention of Important People. The tracks that feature the orchestral arrangements are quite beautiful and, well-written, with lovely piano and strings. Other tracks, though, sound like out-takes from the Dave Soldier, Komar and Melamid's “Most Unwanted Song” project which, I suspect, is exactly the goal. –Madelyn Boudreaux

White Denim
Street: 05.23
White Denim = Jeff The Brotherhood + Akron/Family
White Denim’s guitar work is nothing short of impressive, and they have progressed with every release becoming more and more interesting and less of a classic garage-rock niche band. Often times, it can be difficult to discern the direction a White Denim song is headed in, but they do an amazing job of making chaos seem fluid. Among the improvements on D, one of the more noticeable ones is continuity;, some of the songs on Fits felt slightly awkward andor out of place. If you’re a fan of White Denim, the album doesn’t disappoint. If you haven’t listened to White Denim, this album is an excellent (and pollished) place to start. –Cody Hudson

DFA Records
Street: 06.28
YACHT = Gravy Train + Sleigh Bells + Donna Summer
YACHT has made the soundtrack to the apocalypse without knowing it. With an introduction to each track, it’s as if you’re watching a metaphorical play in your mind. Seducing lyrics, addicting beats and luring bass lines keep you enthralled through its entirety. Not only can I dance my ass off to this album, but it made me think about my life, society’s ideologies, religion and our Mother Earth with all its needs. It got deep, which in my opinion, shows the group’s power. When you can get me to dance and think at the same time, well, then, you just surpassed my expectations. The album seems to be implying that we are the own creators of our happiness and/or unhappiness. That all the power lies within ourselves and it’s up to us to apply that power in any way we see fit. My favorite track, “Paradise Engineering,” made me feel as if I was Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, dancing to save the world. This album is empowering and entertaining. –Mama Beatz

4AD Records
Street: 07.12
Zomby = Kode9 + Burial + Joy Orbison
This album is a beautiful example of the potential of the so-called “post-dubstep” movement, which is currently spreading chaotically, much like urban sprawl, in every direction as producers move on from the dead farmland of uniform dubstep to more fertile grounds. Zomby’s first release in way too long is calm, collected and ethereal, gently tugging you away to some magical land where unicorns are frolicking in rivers and people dance around in the grass in broad daylight. It’s the perfect summer record: light and refreshing. The album moves quickly through its 16 songs with a great consistency of tone as well as a diversity that blows most other artists/producers out of the water. Panda Bear from Animal Collective shows up on “Things Fall Apart,” to assist on a chaotic, harmonic two-and-a-half minutes. “Digital Rain,” “Haunted,” “Black Orchid,” “Vortex” and “Riding With with Death” are all worth checking out for a taste of what the album is capable of before buying it. –Jessie Wood