ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI
In Case We Die
(Bar None)
***

Unlike cool one-man-band isolationists like Iron and Wine, groups with a dozen loud, shouty members let us imagine that we could pick up a spoon and a pot and join the rabble. AIH's In Case We Die sounds more inclusive than ever--the band claps, stomps, revs power drills, plays eight acoustic guitars simultaneously, and basically goes bonkers with Brian Wilson's "Teenage Symphony to God" concept. The best song is "Neverevereverdid" which goes from morose to crashing, whooping folk. By the end of the track, the roof is on fire, drunk people are diving onto the drum kit, and we're totally right there with 'em. ADAM GNADE

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
Lullabies to Paralyze
(Interscope)
***

With less filler and just as many hooks, Lullabies to Paralyze will satisfy fans who appreciated the lighter moments of previous albums of QOTSA. Though Mark Lanegan is still along for the ride, absent from this recording is the drumming of Dave Grohl, and even more notably, the screamy antics of longtime sidekick Nick Oliveri. Cameos--from ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Distillers' Brody Dalle, and Garbage's Shirley Manson--are nice and superfluous, never distracting from Josh Homme's pleasant falsetto, tuneful songwriting, and matchless guitar tone. Lullabies is an excellently produced string of pop-rock hits that meanders less than any previous QOTSA outing without superceding any of them. For better or worse, the heaviest moments are gone, but album centerpiece, "Someone's in the Wolf," recalls the Kraut-inspired explorations that made this band quirky enough to be cool. NATHAN CARSON

THE HOLY SHROUD
Ghost Repeaters
(Level Plane)
***

If members of Q and Not U backed Challenger's Al Burien, it would sound like a fantastic, cynical dance off to inevitable doom--or a lot like Holy Shroud's debut release, Ghost Repeaters. The Holy Shroud features former North of America members Jim MacAlpine and Michael Catano, along with players from Contrived. And with the same passionate fire that's burning under bands like Challenger and Q and Not U, Nova Scotia's Holy Shroud get their message out via blistering guitar and bass, spitting gang vocals and sharp, hard drumming that makes the mind and hips spin. I'd call this a dance record, but not in the same way as ABBA's discography. The Holy Shroud are less "Dance cause it feels good!" and more "Dance, motherfucker, it's the only way to save yourself!" They slap you across the face, caress the sting, and then punch you in the gut. But then you always did like it a little rough. MEGAN SELING

**** Sean Young
*** Dana Plato
** Margot Kidder
* Tawny Kitaen