The Red Thread Tension Pins (Badman)
Jason Lakis' (a.k.a. The Red Thread) debut was built on understated alt.country pop numbers that flirted with the broad, windswept soundscape tendencies of bands like Lanterna and the folk-heartedness of the Idahos and Haydens of the music world. Tension Pins doesn't stray far from that elegant formula, but Lakis nonetheless sounds more confident, more in-the-moment and startlingly more relevant with regard to both lyrical content and compositional skill. These 11 songs harbor a dreamlike quality that enables the vilified notions of soft rock to coalesce with indie aesthetics and inklings of countrified pop. Incredible songwriting and unpretentious instrumental prowess. Killer.
Soulfly Prophecy (Roadrunner)
For his fourth album fronting Soulfly, Max Cavalera once again changed the line-up to include former Il Niño guitarist Marc Rizzo, former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson and once-former Soulfly drummer Joe Nuñez. Despite the new incarnation, the first half of Prophecy sounds like everything to be found on Soulfly's first three releases. By the time "I Believe" spins, however, it becomes clear that Cavalera did a helluva lot of soul-searching in order to craft the last six songs. And save for a throwaway cover of Helmet's "In the Meantime," Prophecy's second half makes the world unsafe for lesser heavy bands.
Meow Meow Snow, Gas, Bones (Devil in the Woods)
Snow, Gas, Bones might just be as close as the world will ever get to hearing Brian Wilson's heretofore unheard-in-its-entirety presumed masterpiece, Smile. Wilson has said he shitcanned the project because "it was inappropriate music to make," and that's a pretty accurate description of guitarist Kirk Hellie's noise-laden pop. Twisted Beach Boys harmonies wander in and out of Hellie's monumentally effected and abstract guitar work for a sound that is as much '60s So-Cal as it is '90s shoegaze. Which is to say it's probably the best pop-ish record you've heard in a very long time.