• Hella, 'There's No 666 in Outer Space' (Ipecac)

    Over the past five years, drummer Zach Hill and guitarist Spencer Seim have maintained a position as the least compelling twosome on the techy, noise-rock totem poll (see Lightning Bolt, Orthrelm, the USA Is a Monster, etc.). Perhaps sensing stagnation, the Californians drafted three extra players -- a second guitarist, a bassist, and a full-time vocalist. Knocking out hectic, aimless prog rock sprinkled with electronics, whistles, and momentary sax skronk, the quintet conjures the Mars Volta doing Zeppelin karaoke over two-bit Mr. Bungle. It makes sense that Bungle's Mike Patton signed them. But otherwise, not so much. Now Hear This: Hella - "Let Your Heavies Out" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Hella on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • White Magic, 'Dat Rosa Mel Apibus' (Drag City)

    The tumbling, chilly psychedelia of this full-length follow-up to 2004's Through the Sun Door EP finds dusky-voiced pianist Mira Billotte and her drifting troupe (including members of Gang Gang Dance, Dirty Three, and the Tower Recordings) on a languorous journey from Brooklyn to Xanadu. Soulfully assured, Billotte beguiles like a cat-powered Grace Slick reclining against a surrealistic, Fleetwood Mac-embroidered pillow, casting spells over gamelan dub, chamber folk, sitar shanties, and raga vespers. Now Hear This: White Magic - "The Light" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Animal Collective, 'Hollinndagain' (Paw Tracks)

    Animal Collective debuted six years ago with an assortment of drones, strums, and autistic whippoorwill harmonies, but their drifting, woodsy efforts have gone on to develop a poppier bounce. Released in 2002 in a hand-painted, vinyl-only edition of 300, Hollinndagain looks back on seven early live tracks. The three campfire prayers taped at radio station WFMU crackle with melancholic, mouth-foaming euphoria (see the chest-slapping chants and booby-trap percussion of "Pride and Fight"). Club recordings from New York and their first U.S. tour with Black Dice are less dynamic, but incidental crowd noises add a feral urgency. Now Hear This: Animal Collective - "Forest Gospel" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Wooden Wand and the Sky High Band, 'Second Attention' (Kill Rock Stars)

    Since the early 2000s, James Toth, a.k.a. Wooden Wand, has recorded noisy, jazz-spiked floods of freak folk with his shadowy, Brooklyn-based band the Vanishing Voice. On a 2005 solo debut as Wooden Wand, his idiosyncratic songs approximated Roky Erickson breezily transmitting over a rusty shortwave radio. But here, joined by members of Skygreen Leopards, Davenport, and the aforementioned Voice, Toth transforms himself, chewing the panoramic scenery like a Dylan-tongued soothsayer dealing dark-hued peyote rock. Essential listening for those who wish Devendra Banhart didn't smile so much. Now Hear This:Wooden Wand and the Sky High Band - "Portrait in the Clouds" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

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