New releases from The Kills, Band of Skulls, and The Claypool Lennon Delirium 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge The Kills
  • The Kills

The Kills

Ash & Ice


File next to: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleigh Bells

Alison Mosshart has kept so busy between stints with Gang of Four and The Dead Weather, it appeared to be anyone's guess whether The Kills duo with Jamie Hince would be revived. But five years after their fourth album, Mosshart and Hince have returned with a riff-heavy album of substantial vocal howls and guitar wails. The Kills have dropped the languorous heroin-chic of the first two albums in favor of a powerful stride, midway between The Black Keys and Sleigh Bells. As an album, Ash & Ice bears a heft from 13 long tracks, yet there's a bouncing lightness through the addition of Afro-Caribbean beats and sampled tracks. The best songs, like "Siberian Nights" and "Heart of a Dog," serve up a strident side Kills fans have never heard. Just as importantly, Domino offers up some of the most swaggering songs of the summer. — LW

click to enlarge The Claypool Lennon Delirium
  • The Claypool Lennon Delirium

The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Monolith of Phobos

ATO Records

File next to: Primus, Pink Floyd, Plastic Ono Band

Les Claypool's detractors point to his tendency toward being too clever by half, for making self-consciously "weird" music with wacky sounds, a kind of less creative, poor man's Frank Zappa. Sean Lennon has moved in his own odd musical directions, avoiding critical brickbats by focusing on song craft. Monolith of Phobos builds on the strongest characteristics of both artists' work, with tracks like "Cricket and the Genie: Movement I, The Delirium" offering up an infectious and rubbery groove, with a fine dusting of psychedelia. The collection is weird and bass-heavy enough for Claypool fans, and straight-ahead enough to satisfy those who expect (at the very least) rocking melody from the son of one of pop music's most imposing figures. Bonus: The NYC-born Lennon has never sounded so British as on this disc. — BK

click to enlarge Band of Skulls
  • Band of Skulls

Band of Skulls

By Default


File next to: Led Zeppelin, Stone Roses, Siena Root

Rock substyles come and go, but there's always a place for catchy riff-centric rock of the kind made by this Southampton, England trio. They start from a position of building a song around a signature riff, and put solid emphasis on crafting a memorable tune to hold it. There's an upbeat party vibe to some of the tunes on By Default that recalls the British glam bands of the '70s like Slade or Sweet. The backing vocals of bassist Emma Richardson give a more rounded-out feel to the harmonies, and the band's assured, powerful playing is true to the arena-rocking aesthetic of their forbears. Band of Skulls is far more popular in their native UK — their 2009 debut went all but unnoticed in the States — but the momentum provided by their past few albums could break this, their fifth album, in the USA. — BK


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