• Screaming Females, 'Power Move' (Don Giovanni)

    The center of this Garden State trio, diminutive Marissa Paternoster is a Punky Van Halen in thrift-store coats who rips through spiky guitar solos unlike anybody else in indie-dom, delivering postcollege angst in an intimidating quaver-to-throat-ripping howl. Screaming Females' emotionally detailed songs and tight playing push against a slightly muddy sound straight outta the mid-'80s underground. "I Believe in Evil" thunders at religion, while "Skull" packs a swinging stoner-rock jam into less than five minutes. But Power Move doesn't touch the band's live performances. See them once, and Paternoster will always be with you, the tiny shredder in that band. Watch: Screaming Females, "Bell" BUY: Amazon

  • Isis, 'Wavering Radiant' (Ipecac)

    Isis' last few albums -- which weaved between heavy ambience and ambient heft, usually erring on the side of spaciness -- made the Los Angeles–based band absurdly influential post-metal icons. But here, they temper the sun-staring and remember to thrash now and then for the brainy geeks who have been down since day one. Songs are still suite-sized, but this is the toughest and catchiest Isis record since their 1999 debut full-length, Celestial. Here, they soar and attack in equal measure: widescreen escapism for an age of diminished expectations. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Extra Golden, 'Thank You Very Quickly' (Thrill Jockey)

    This hybrid group -- two American indie vets and two Kenyan benga musicians -- twist rock and African riffs into drum-head-tight grooves on their third album, a feast for multiethnic guitar nerds but also a lively mix that anyone can dance to. Mid-fi recording at guitarist Ian Eagleson's parents' house (!) adds a homey vibe, "Ukimwi" is a shimmering prayer for the end of AIDS, and the title track chronicles the chaos back in Kenya and wishes for the best. Important reminder: "You never know when you might be next." Listen: Extra Golden, "Anyango" (DOWNLOAD MP3) BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Morrissey, 'Years of Refusal' (Lost Highway)

    Pop music doesn't allow for many third bites at the apple, but here's Stephen Patrick Morrissey chomping away. It's the Dr. Dre career path: Both led epoch-defining groups, both sustained smart, healthy solo careers that collapsed with a thud in the mid-'90s, and both came roaring back to life. We look forward to a possible collabo on Detox. Ever since You Are the Quarry in '04, our man from Manchester has been weirdly unstoppable, making vital music, throwing exhaustingly energetic live shows, and honing in on 50 as well as or better than any rocker this side of Neil Young. Produced with you-are-there vigor by the late Jerry Finn, who helmed Quarry, Years of Refusal thunders with noise-rock bass lines, enormous drums, and big swaths of guitar distortion.

  • Wino, 'Punctuated Equilibrium' (Southern Lord)

    With the Obsessed and Saint Vitus in the '80s, Scott "Wino" Weinrich all but invented doom metal (well, the parts that Sabbath didn't create), and in the 2000s, his power trios Spirit Caravan and the Hidden Hand didn't bogart the deep-focus high. Here, perhaps his most deft rhythm section (Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and Rezin bassist Jon Blank) acts as a liberating army -- trad doom, hardcore tempos, mathematic instrumentals, and a Fugazi lope ("Wild Blue Yonder") coexist perfectly with his famously piercing, rounded guitar tone. It's change any hesher could believe in. Listen: Wino, "Release Me" BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Fucked Up, 'The Chemistry of Common Life' (Matador)

    Bands have been looking for what comes after hardcore punk for decades. Solutions have included visits to the local tavern (the Replacements), Neil Young blowouts (Dinosaur Jr.), and metal (too many to name). The sick joke is that the genre now thrives on a fidelity to the past that rivals Civil War reenactments. File-sharing has made it easier than ever for bands to evoke the glory days of Japanese grindcore, crusty Finnish thrash, or Reagan-era Hermosa Beach slam. Fucked Up brilliantly stalk the DMZ between devotion and progression. Band name that might negate big-box-store retail? Check. Vocals reminiscent of pack-a-day screamers from Negative Approach to Poison Idea? Check. Seemingly pointless, yet somewhat intriguing instrumentals? Check. Smart yet unintelligible lyrics? Check. Flute?

  • Viking Moses, 'The Parts That Showed' (Epiphysis)

    Gorgeously recorded by Paul "brother of Will" Oldham, Parts is a you-are-there document of obsession and despair about a gold-hearted teen hooker and (fancifully) intended for Dolly Parton to sing. Brendon Massei (a.k.a. Viking Moses) has been doing the itinerant freak-folk thing for a decade-plus (Devendra Banhart included him on the now semi-legendary The Golden Apples of the Sun comp), and though his quaver can be a bit much, the songs are mercifully simpler and more tune-shaped than most modern acid-acoustic types. BUY: Amazon

  • Gojira, 'The Way of All Flesh' (Prosthetic)

    While modern heshers await the next album from Mastodon,Flesh serves as brutal palate cleanser. Like the good postmodern thrashers they are, Gojira blend blast beats ("Adoration for None"), sludge stomp ("Yama's Messengers"), and death-and-doom riff spirals (take your pick) with unexpected quirks, like the solid minute of stick taps that open "The Art of Dying" and the math rock of "Toxic Garbage Island." But they should've breathed fire on whoever thought the industro-flange groove of "A Sight to Behold" was a bright idea. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • RTX, 'JJ Got Live RATX' (Drag City)

    When RTX frontcougar Jennifer Herrema and ex-boyfriend Neil Hagerty split up the perennially underrated Royal Trux, he took the experimental guitar meander (for his barrage of solo and Howling Hex releases), and she took the sex, drugs, and Aerosmith albums. From the dirtball riffing and hammered swagger to the vocal abuse and artwork, everything about this record belongs either blasting out of, or airbrushed onto, a stinky conversion van. Whether you think Herrema's sleaze smacks of too much effort or is legitimately smacking your ass depends on your tolerance for bands insisting their music isn't ironic. Over and over again. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Dillinger Four, 'C I V I L W A R' (Fat Wreck Chords)

    These longtime Minneapolis hardcore-punk wisenheimers remember when scenesters thought Green Day were sellouts rather than holdouts, but they still value hooks over speed and have no aversion to carefully crafting their spew -- this pogo-ready slab has been promised since 2006. Maybe they were waiting for a tense election year: Politics fuel D4's fire these days as much as the revved-up mod riffs that power angry/clever songs like "Parishiltonisametaphor" and the double-time "The Art of Whore." Please vote, and then join them in the pit. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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