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Le Butcherettes, Slipknot, and Foxygen 

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Le Butcherettes

Cry Is for the Flies

Ipecac Recordings

File next to: P.J. Harvey, Essential Logic, Free Moral Agents

This second album from Guadalajara women's punk band Le Butcherettes was delayed six months, but to call it worth the wait is a major understatement. Lead singer Teri Gender Bender spent time with Mars Volta members in the Bosnian Rainbows project, an opportunity to stretch out that's led her into strange territory. Cry Is for the Flies sounds like a jam session of Siouxsie Sioux, P.J. Harvey, James Chance and Lora Logic. Songs like "Poet from Nowhere" are melodic in a hardcore way; elsewhere are out-of-tune organs as well as the wild trumpet stylings of Mars Volta's Rikardo Rodríguez-López. The explicit feminism of debut album Sin Sin Sin has given way to a more general political art consciousness. With a spoken poem by Henry Rollins and guest vocals from Shirley Manson, this is as far from a sophomore slump as one could imagine. — Loring Wirbel

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Slipknot

.5: The Gray Chapter

Roadrunner Records

File next to: Mudvayne, Machine Head

Jason Suecof. Erik Rutan. Josh Wilbur. Ross Robinson. These are all producers who could have made The Gray Chapter an amazing album. Instead, Slipknot fans are stuck with Greg Fidelman's muted guitars and anemic drums. In Fidelman's defense, the keyboards and deejay pop nicely, while new bassist Alessandro Venturella (Krokodil) has a decent place in the mix and a wicked groove to boot. All things considered, this is still a good album. The ambient elements are nicely eerie. Corey Taylor's singing is strong, especially on "Killpop." The unnamed drummer, almost certainly Jay Weinberg (Against Me!), gives us a 10-ton blastbeat bridge in the first single, "The Devil in I." But the song, like most of the album, still sounds too small. Slipknot only clicks as a band when they sound enormous. But keep your ears open: When these tracks get played live, they're going to shine. — Griffin Swartzell

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Foxygen

... And Star Power

Jagjaguwar

File next to: Wytches, Todd Rundgren, Game Theory

After five EPs and two albums in the space of three years, Foxygen found more recognition this year, thanks to an endorsement by Jeff Tweedy as well as frontman Sam France's onstage reputation for spinning wildly out of control. ... And Star Power is a complex double-disc wonder whose fragmented nature makes it as much mess as montage. Wonderful suggestions of early '60s soul and psychedelia are present, and it is clear that France and partner Jonathan Rado could bedazzle with a condensed history of 20th-century pop. But some tracks on this vast, sometimes bloated album are more fragmentary than the most abrupt Guided by Voices one-minute wonders. Would discipline and careful editing dull the edge of Foxygen? Possibly, but the present glorious potlatch of pop is almost too much for even the most obsessive-compulsively psychedelic mind to appreciate. — Loring Wirbel

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