Sound Advice 

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Bill Laswell

Means of Deliverance


File next to: Jah Wobble, Eberhard Weber

Although his band Material started out on the mutant-funk Ze Records, bassist Bill Laswell soon went on to become a "hot-call" producer whose edgy sound was sought out by Motörhead, PiL and Mick Jagger. Through it all, he continued to indulge his avant-jazz and world-music tendencies via solo albums, collaborations and an ever-shifting Material lineup. On Means of Deliverance, the ringing bass harmonics that open the album are trademark Laswell, even though he's abandoned his electric bass for a stand-up. The instrument's fluid, reverb-drenched tones take center stage throughout, joined only by the occasional drone, some tasteful octave-doubling on "Aeon," and a lone guest vocal from Ethiopian singer Gigi Shibabaw. Tranquil and melodic, but inventive enough to deserve closer listens, the album's pure musicality should enchant even the glitchiest Material fan. — Bill Forman

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The Vaccines

Come of Age


File next to: The Cribs, Kaiser Chiefs

The Vaccines take a quantum leap forward in the English quartet's second album. Producer Glyn Johns — legendary for his work with the Who, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones — gets the boys to create a more unified rock 'n roll style here. Meanwhile, singer Justin Young denies rock-star inclinations, insisting on the bouncing boogie "Teenage Icon" that he's no Frankie Avalon, while on "No Hope" declaring: "I could make an observation / If you want the voice of a generation / But I'm too self-absorbed to give it clout." Strokes-like guitars rip through songs of romance ("I Always Knew" and the Graham Parker-ish "All in Vain"), trip through a "Ghost Town," and turn up in the pure pop of "Aftershave Ocean." Elsewhere, the record gets quietly moody, Young declaring he's not a "Weirdo" before veering into the slinky "I Wish I Was a Girl." Good stuff from a fine young band. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Ty Segall


Drag City

File next to: Black Lips, the Mooney Suzuki

Twins is the nothing-if-not-prolific Ty Segall's third and best album of 2012 alone. It's a propulsive, psychedelic garage exploration that deftly blends hard-charging songs with slower and more textural numbers. Those two extremes together prove a good indicator of what this San Francisco singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is about. One moment, his blistering guitar riffs are tearing up "You're the Doctor" or slogging toward metal on "Inside Your Heart." The next, he's going all fuzz folk on "Gold on the Shore" or sounding very much like John Lennon on "Ghost." Taken as a whole, Twins finds Segall bringing together the proto-punk drive of the Stooges, psychedelic sounds of his Bay Area hometown, and the Brit stylings of Marc Bolan and David Bowie. The mix feels right, not just for him, but for the present time — which could use more noisy rock 'n roll like this. — L. Kent Wolgamott


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