Alain Johannes, ‘Spark’ (Rekords Rekords/Ipecac)
You’ve likely heard Alain Johannes before, whether he was playing guitar with Queens of the Stone Age or Them Crooked Vultures, writing for Adam Lambert, or engineering Arctic Monkeys. Unfortunately, it took tragedy to inspire his solo debut. Spark was written after Johannes’ wife, musician Natasha Shneider, died in 2008, and it’s a beautiful tribute. Droning elegies sent askew by exotic instrumentation and tricky time signatures, these eight songs offer redemptive emotion and intense formal pleasure, with the spidery “Endless Eyes” a bittersweet standout.