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Random Stabbings 16b

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Wolverine "Still" (Candlelight Records)
Moody Swedish melancholia-metallers playing the Queensryche card for all it’s worth, but the end result is better and deeper than that may sound. The hookage in album opener “House of Plague” is explosive after a Dream Theater fashion, whereas “Bleeding” amps up the 70s-obeisant keyboards to realize a more Deep Purple approach. The obligato come-hither-leather-chickies track “Nothing More” may as well have been sung in Latin for all the relevance it has in this market, but “Sleepy Town” is a massive departure in every sense, conjoining Linkin Park power-cruise with drawn-out Radiohead bizarro-subtleties. It’s back to serial mawkishness for “Liar On the Mount,” an opportunity for singer Stefan Zell to weep histrionically about 9/11, viewed here as conspiracy as opposed to incompetence-enabled tragedy. Order from

Roberta Donnay "What’s Your Story" (Rainforest Records)
One-time Grammy nominee Donnay possesses a bee-stung soprano with a Ricki Lee Jones sense of devil-may-care that isn’t just art-school playacting. After 20 years of kicking around with such big shots as Huey Lewis and Neil Young, she returns to the standards with this one, possibly because her local espresso filling station didn’t have anything this appropriately unobtrusive. Her skeleton-crew backup consists of piano (Eric Reed), drum and bass, saxophonist Dave Ellis chiming in on a few tracks. The abridged tick-tock here begins with a bloozy “What’s Your Story Morning Glory” carried aloft by Donnay’s breezy sass, followed later by a mildly countrified rendition of “Put It Where You Want It.” It’s not all Starbucks-panhandling, as demonstrated by her bedroom-haired, torchy take on “Small Day Tomorrow,” in which Reed goes off on an extended lounge-lizard tangent. Order from


Shearwater "Palo Santo" (Misra Records)
Having tossed their folk ideas under the bus, Shearwater’s into Talk Talk these days as you may have heard, but it’s not quite that simple; there’s an altie slant to the stuff that’s indicative of a Yo La Tengo CD-buying binge (“La Dame et la Licorne”) and a delving into somebody’s old vinyl collection that uncovered some cobwebby Supertramp (“Red Sea, Black Sea”). “White Waves” evidences a stolid confidence in their riffing, busted-amp-tube Brian Jonestown non sequiturs adding to some thankfully drawn out skag-haze that’s a slo-mo mutation of “19th Nervous Breakdown.” While we’re there, fuzz (as well as hints of bent-circuitry) is a major part of the plan now, as if they’d come back from some sort of week-long Pitchfork-fest and decided that the Melvins were God, and Jonathan Meiburg’s voice has been working out on a Jeff Buckley-meets-Billy Joel bag, so it’s now even more nerve-wracking, like a box of broken glass shaken by an orangutan. Order from

Muse "Black Holes and Revelations" (Warner Brothers Records)
Out to please everyone at once, Muse's symphonic-U2-punk-politicalness strikes a lot of different chords, none of them all that disagreeable. Certainly a lot of cut-and-paste goes on here – there's seriously a bridge stolen from Foreigner in "Exo-Politics" and that's just the beginning if you feel like playing Whack-An-Influence – but it meshes the way a non-horrible G-rated flick would come together, with lots of pleasant, never-before-heard vibe, the type of album that'd be perfect to have playing in the background when it's time to interrogate Junior about the Trojans you found under his bed, things like that. Muse doesn't try to scorch the earth with beauty, relying more on dusty Spandau Ballet and Depeche Mode albums to dictate what they'll be doing at any given time, and then there's the Queen thing - these guys' ultimate supergroup one-off would have been Chris Martin fronting Massive Attack on a re-do of Night At the Opera. So yes, it's good. Order from

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