(Jade Tree Records)
Pedro the Lion frontman David Bazan's Christianity used to creep me out. I like my music secular--unless it's country, in which case, I expect the lord and whisky to shadow one another. I stand before you now, though, to ask your forgiveness: I was wrong. Control is a great album, crackling with driving rhythms and loud guitars--a harder version musically and lyrically than Pedro's previous work. Bazan's voice brims with resignation and sadness. The simple guitar, bass, and drums underscore his words with mid-tempo resolve. From Control's quiet opening, the album explodes into tension and deceit with the adultery and apocalypse metaphors of "Rapture." Control plumbs moral failures and disappointments, making temptation sound like a hell of a lot of fun. NATE LIPPENS
Hostile Ambient Takeover
Hitching a ride on a Melvins record is like riding shotgun with a driver who swerves through hostile terrain at one of two speeds--kinda fast, or really fucking slow. That said, Hostile Ambient Takeover is a dizzying--in the best sense--Melvins adventure, even by the band's experimental standards. The album mixes dark, snort-the-speed-off-the-carpet metal with electronic electrocutions and noisy interludes of one- and two-chord moans drenched in sludge. The dynamics on Hostile are shiftier than a scumbag's worst intentions, and the tracks sound nasty, violent, and caked with a heavy layer of grime. My brain hasn't enjoyed this warped of a meltdown since the last time I sucked down whippets as Black Sabbath methodically tortured my speakers. JENNIFER MAERZ
The Modern Sinner Nervous Man (EP)
THE MARS VOLTA
EPs suck. Why spend good money on three songs now when you can buy the band's full-length a little later? Although I never buy 'em, I have two new EPs to recommend anyway--'cause they're really good. The first is The Modern Sinner Nervous Man from the Constantines, a band that slashes gruff/harried vocals through angular instrumental melodies, blasting out of a hardcore womb and into something a little artier, more spacious, and, in places, almost soul-oriented. Just when "Blind Luck" begins to whet your appetite, though, the disc stops, dammit.
Mars Volta is one of two spinoffs from Omar and Cedric of At the Drive-In. Tremulant is all we get from these guys for now--but man, what a record. The EP is a mix of psychedelic dub-punk, as aggressive and intense as ATDI but echoing their shit all over the place, producing a hybrid sound that's really pretty in a tripped-out, outer-space-rock kinda way. JM