By Andrew McNally Columnist
The Strokes – Comedown Machine Grade: B+
It’s been a decade since “Room On Fire,” but this album, the band’s fifth, has done just what “Room On Fire” was supposed to do. The garage rock-indie band took their condensed, simple style from 2001 and expanded it. “Comedown Machine” uses “Is This It?” as a base, jumping beyond garage rock into more inspired and eclectic songs, but without making too many changes. It gets a little boring at times, but it’s the Strokes at their best. They’ll never surpass “Is This It?,” but tracks like “50/50” are all too reminiscent. After three attempts, the Strokes have finally made their great sophomore album.
If You Like: Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Phosphorescent – Muchacho Grade: A-
There isn’t really a name for the genre of music that Phosphorescent, aka singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, performs. His sixth album jumps from airy ballads to country-inspired folk to bouncy, horn-based indie songs in somehow seamless transitions. The songs themselves never feel wholly original, and the volume is barely pushed beyond the minimum, but when it’s all assembled, it’s an enchanting work that places itself above most of the works by Phosphorescent’s contemporaries. When Houck simultaneously channels and critiques Johnny Cash on “Song For Zula,” you’ll get engulfed. It’s best to let it happen.
If You Like: Devendra Banhart, Fleet Foxes
Black Pus – All My Relations Grade: B
If you’re familiar with the band Lightning Bolt, then you won’t find it strange that the drummer has a number of solo albums. Brian Chippendale, aka Black Pus, releases solo albums that sound like tracks Lightning Bolt didn’t use because they are a little too conventional. It’s purely noisy, but sometimes the vocals are audible, and sometimes there’s a twisting and turning rhythm. The drums are expectedly wild, and the album is a little more varied than what Lightning Bolt does. It’s a solid piece of noise rock. It’s one of the year’s first head scratchers.
If You Like: Lightning Bolt, Marnie Stern