Mr. Gnome, ‘Deliver This Creature’ (El Marko)
If it weren’t for the willful, overweening weirdness that’s apparently required of every proggy pop-metal album (see Coheed and Cambria, System of a Down), this record probably would’ve been made already. But it’s approach was just too powerfully obvious. Why not give heavy, down-tuned, open-string riffs the unadorned beauty and poise to match the glistening production? This duo’s debut full-length balances a soulful, feminine power that recalls Scout Niblett and a drummer who coldly demands dynamic shifts with almost electronic precision. It’s an earnest tug-of-war.