La Foret

Over the course of their three proper records to date, Xiu Xiu have gone to great lengths to defy sonic expectations--using unpredictability as a sort of structural center. Weird thing is--with this, their fourth album--the band's unpredictability is becoming considerably more predictable. Which isn't to say that La Foret is by any means a disappointment--on the contrary, the record features some of the band's most moving, complex, and beautiful songs to date--it's just that four albums in, we're beginning to have an idea of what to expect. There's the break-out, driving pop song ("Apistat Commander," "Crankheart," and "I Luv the Valley" are here complimented by the masterful "Muppet Face"); the quiet, whispery, sad bastard numbers ("Mousey Toy"); and the relentless droning song ("Rose for Sharon)--all comfortably represented. There are a handful of surprises, but for the most part, La Foret stays the course pretty consistently. Coming from one of the greatest bands in the world however, I'm not complaining. ZP

Jesüs Chryst
(Paw Tracks)

Imagine bands as soda cans. Six of 'em, actually, stuck in the plastic rings of a six-pack. You're carrying them home from Plaid Pantry, by the loop in the middle, and they're playing furiously in hopes of being drank first. There's Dick Dale but he's drown out by Deicide next to him, so's all you hear are tiny surf twangs above the deathrumble. Dangling from the middle rings are the Velvet Underground, stuck eternally in the last minute of "Sister Ray," while Bikini Kill riots next door. Back row is Suckdog and Black Dice and they're lightsabering each other with feedback. And those six bands, as their cans clang together and as they're shaken to fizzy combustion, are suddenly signed by the Animal Collective's label. Question is, will anyone (besides me) drink them? ADAM GNADE

The Road Leads Where It's Led EP
(Reprise Records)

Cozying up to already-protracted classics seems to be Secret Machines' M.O. on the interim covers set The Road Leads Where It's Led. And for what it's worth, it's infinitely better than the Dallas threesome's proper work. A driven take on Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" replaces tempered acoustic jazz with voluminous squalor and reverb. Sampled gusts of spectral wind conjure images of rolling, snow-covered hills on the nine-minute version of Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country," initially coming off like Spaceman 3. But as the song peaks into ringing piano and swirling sound, it reaches about as close to symphonic as a trio can come. JOHN VETTESE

The Secret Machines perform Fri July 15 at Roseland, 8 NW 6th

**** Funnel Cakes
*** Snow Cones
** Cotton Candy
* Dippin' Dots