Goblin Cock, Come With Me If You Want To Live! (Robcore)
Metallic music from Rob Crow of the decidedly un-metal Pinback (which is way more popular than I ever realized). At face value, Crow's hesher role-playing reminds me of Pelican, which makes perfect sense. But the packaging -- the dick-eating pun, the Tolkien-nerd cover art, etc. -- creates some unnecessary dissonance. Why not just call it "Rob Crow"? That's kinda metal, no?
The Thermals, Now We Can See (Kill Rock Stars)
I wasn't waiting for a pop album, but that's what it feels like, and goddamn if it isn't spot-on. I'm starting to wonder if singer/guitarist Hutch Harris is better at being Ted Leo than Ted Leo is. That's no knock against Leo -- he's fantastic at being agitated -- but if Leo stopped waiving the Orthodox Activist Punk flag for an album and wrote those quasi-Kelly-Clarkson songs he's been meaning to write, it would sound like this. Except, y'know, this guy Harris is a natural.
MF Doom, "Born Like This" (Lex)
My favorite rapper, doing whatever he wants to do, which means completely turning over the best beat to a lady (Empress Sharhh, "Still Dope"), using words like "jerk" and "yucky," aligning himself with Bukowski ("Cellz"), and conveniently donning his villain helmet to attack superheroes in spandex ("Batty Boyz," which is more anti-hero than anti-homo). My tolerance level for his occasional bullshit is infinite, because his grooves are perfectly intelligent and his swagger is singular. (He dropped the "MF" for this record -- i.e. it's just Doom -- but I'm addin' it back. That's the price of loyalty.)
Heartless Bastards, "The Mountain" (Fat Possum)
Every time I think the grunge boy in me has been permanently satiated, a band *goes there* in a way that makes me think I've not grown up one bit since 1992. With this Bastards set, however, I get over that neurosis quickly, because the songs ultimately are not kids' stuff. Frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom is witchy and wise, and the dudes behind her are completely locked-in. Pros, even. My intellect says it's superfuzz bigmuff -- potent but familiar. But when I reflexively keep hitting the Repeat button on a track like "Out At Sea" or "Early Morning," I'm thinking, "totally classic."
Kid606, "Shout At The Döner" (Tigerbeat6)
Behold the beat of dark disco nightmares, the funny kind, the goose-pimple kind. As far as mischievous beatnuts go, this Kid is nearly geriatric, but he moved to Berlin, which seems to rejuvinate just about anybody. I'll have what he's having, because "Shout At The Döner" never gets annoying; it churns and thumps and rumbles in ways that my relatively untrained ear can't trace back to any particular piece of music-tech. Yeah, it's got "beats" and "samples," but they seem to exist in a cheeky kind of isolation, like one of those awesome horror movies that seems blatantly out of touch with reality, but totally plausible nonetheless. (The dead-kid song -- Mr. Wobble's Nightmare -- is creepy enough for a metalhead, though.)