Sound Check

Joan of Arc
Eventually, All at Once (Record Label)

Joan of Arc’s insistence on turning lyrical concepts inside out via Tim Kinsella’s high-concept lyrical mind-fucks and their tendency to masturbate structure-less riffs into oblivion always begs confrontation. But perhaps it’s unfair to accuse the band of provocation; they make art-rock (at this point, more the former than latter) that’s full of pretension – but gleefully so. Their latest album toys with actual songs – mellow and musical – guitars cartwheeling softly over each other as Kinsella guides the musical Resistance into the outer realms of “post.” Naysayers won’t be won over, but here’s an affirmation of existence for a band that really doesn’t need one. Jonah Flicker

Location (Automation)

Baltimore’s self-dubbed “electrothrash” band begins on a journey of caustic hybrid vocals with intermittent beats of fuel streaming into the bottoms of your ear canals, then drives you to take on any sweaty dancefloor-moshpit. Singer Jane Vincent amalgamates his heightened stream of ambiguous vowels with uncontrollably fast drumbeats, breeding a rioting set of neo-thrash with crusading noise, dark sporadic shrieks of merciless rhythm reminiscent of Aphex Twin, Adult and Error. Vincent’s potent roars will thaw out stiff body parts and fuel meek limbs with jolts of belting frenzy. (Please kickbox at your own discretion.) If you like extra jalapeños in your turntable mix, Abiku will deliver. ­Chris Girard

Bardo Pond
Ticket Crystals (ATP Recordings)

What good psychedelic band doesn’t indulge in a little bit of excess? Psych-rock veterans Bardo Pond certainly have explored their fair share of fuzzy recesses, and the Psychedelphia band once again showcase their
trademark psychedelic sprawl on Ticket Crystals. The album swirls with beautifully chilled dirges (“Isle”), blissed out Beatles covers (“Cry Baby Cry”), and head-smashing forays into peyote-driven trips (two words:“Destroying Angel”) – or everything at once (the languidly intense “FCII”). While Bardo continue to lead off their albums with their most delectable track – casts its menacing shadow over the album like the pissed-off behemoth it is – they end Ticket Crystals on an equally killer note: “Montana Sacra II” lurches on squalling, teetering guitars that crash upwards, burying a vocal sample which tries to persuade us, “I am not afraid…” Lee Wang

To Find Me Gone (Dicristina)

Vetiver’s latest To Find Me Gone is a velvety masterpiece that lovingly envelopes listeners with the comforts of their folky twang. The album employs rhythms as soft and familiar as a heartbeat and simple, lulling lyrics. Illustrated by the lead off track “Been So Long” – “I can’t believe you’re knocking / knocking on my door / It’s been so long / been so long” – To Find Me Gone quietly seduces listeners with a boyish carpet of romance. Andy Cabic’s tender vocal demeanor paired with Devendra Banhart on guitar and the sweet complement of occasional violin and cello makes the album a well-rounded treat with a subtle richness. Jaime Waxman

Carina Round
Slow Motion Addict (Interscope)

Brilliant, musical tantrum-throwing Midlands girl Carina Round manages to mold her many daggers into one big rocket of catharsis, new album Slow Motion Addict being possessed of an astonishingly ferocious focus and intensity. Comparisons to PJ Harvey abound, but her jagged blues punk and distressed vocal wail share aesthetic territory with the likes of Jon Spencer and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well. The anxiety levels are, indeed, often jarring – on “Ready to Confess,” she just about blows to pieces. “I’ve got everything that I need / But I want more,” she howls. Mercy on the fool who gets in her way. Ken Scrudato

The Knife
Silent Shout (Mute)

The Knife is now coming unsheathed: its blade is black and draws blood smoothly with the kindest of cuts. The pulsing, electronic warbling and the sometimes-cryptic lyrics – with their vivid, frequently haunting imagery – inhabit a subterranean world all too rarely explored by music made on computers. The Knife’s music is unsettling and simultaneously warm and comforting: the duo’s manipulated voices sing like they’re under a strange spell, at once blissful and dark. At times they channel Laurie Anderson at her most somber or a deranged Björk. And like Anderson, Björk and other like artists, the Knife has both a playful and a somber side, but it’s all tinged with something a bit more sinister, something uniquely their own. Kristopher Monroe

Tapes ‘n Tapes
The Loon (XL Recordings)

If a comparison is needed, Tapes ‘n Tapes’ The Loon is like the class clown in high school – the one that was actually funny and smart but a little too “weird” to conform to the “cool” crowd. Which is good for us, though. The album is charismatically inconsistent, riffing on different and colorful beats and rhythms, borrowing bald-facedly anywhere from polka to Pavement to Pixies. Such variations, coupled with playfully biting lyrics, comprise a sound that is smart without being pretentious and fun without being obnoxious. With all the playful use of various instruments, vocals and even feedback, the album is best heard at top volume with earphones on to catch all the nuances, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely danceable. So leave the cool kids to their MTV2, and let us dance to Tapes ‘n Tapes. Angela Seo