Gallowsbird's Bark

(Rough Trade)


Every superlative hurled at the White Stripes deserves to be redirected toward the Fiery Furnaces and then multiplied fivefold. Led by (alleged) siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger, the Furnaces renew my ever-so-tenuous faith in rock. The Furnaces' arty blues-rock songs are instantly catchy, but full of weird-ass energy and inventive little touches--T. Monk piano eccentricities, Zoot Horn Rollo guitar curlicues, virulent Moog blurts, Randy Newman/Paul McCartney's music-hall-pop moves, and a white girl who sings da blooz with excellent enunciation and no risible pretensions to being poor and black. At once tight and loose, venomous and sweet, and elegant and swaggering, Gallowsbird's Bark miraculously rejuvenates a genre that was wrinkly even when Clapton/Page/Beck were toying with it. DAVE SEGAL


Powerslaves: An Elektro Tribute to Iron Maiden

(Angelmaker Records)


Captain Ahab's version of "Flash of the Blade" replicates the quintessential '80s experience for an outsider: playing Nintendo while blaring Iron Maiden. Although at that time the adolescent forms of electro and heavy metal were as opposed as their ever-tormented fans, shame has now been removed from both 808s and spandex, and the Angelmaker label's attempt to pair the two has attracted the brightest European electro acts and received the blessing of Iron Maiden. Fourteen groups take turns forcing soaring falsettos through vocoders, reducing guitar solos to pinging synth notes, and unearthing new meaning from the first 12 years of Maiden. Clenched-fist declarations of masculinity become pining love songs in the hands of sleek-voiced divas like Macondo. Clips from G.W. Bush's "War on Terror" speech added to the throb of "Die With Your Boots On," unveils timely wisdom in 20-year-old lyrics. ETHAN SWAN


Leave Luck to Heaven

(Spectral/Ghostly International)


Matthew Dear owns 2003. Check his track record: a zig-zagginâ booty-bumpinâ glitch-house 12-inch as Jabberjaw for Perlon Records; scientific, pinwheel-eyed minimal techno as False for Richie Hawtin's Plus 8 imprint; two weird-steppin' microhouse 12s for Spectral; and now the work that should make him rich and famous, Leave Luck to Heaven. Dear's debut full-length under his own name unleashes his inner pop romantic while maintaining the quirky production techniques that endear him to both DJs and gear geeks worldwide. Singing in that seductive just-woke-up voice Sly Stone used in "Family Affair" and Bill Callahan deploys in every Smog song, Dear forges a tuneful brand of funked-up techno you can listen to repeatedly as if it were a medley of Stevie Wonder's early-'70s hits. Simultaneously as strange and danceable as fellow mavericks Akufen and Pantytec's best tracks, Heaven will charm the thong off you. DS

**** Collard Greens

*** Kale

** Arugula

* Swiss Chard