Best Albums: Relentless metal, risk-taking pop, and bluesy psych rock

This week’s best albums:

– Boston metal quartet Revocation returns with its fourth full-length — a self-titled collection that, as the name suggests, might best reflect the band’s brand of relentless thrash and technical death metal.

– Each with boundary-pushing credits a mile long, wife-and-husband tag-team Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) create a collection of omnivorous, risk-taking pop as Rabbit Rabbit.

Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Tom “Tobacco” Fec and MC Zackey Force Funk collaborate for synth-pop weirdness and rap/funk leanings as Demon Queen.

– As Old Baby, Young Widows guitarist Evan Patterson unites with the folksy baritone of Jonathan Glen Wood (plus members of Slint, Shipping News, and Phantom Family Halo) to deliver heaving rhythms, reverberated tones, and bluesy psych-rock swagger.

Honorable mentions

The Civil Wars: s/t (Sensibility / Columbia)

Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo: Prince Avalanche soundtrack (Temporary Residence)

Volto!: Incitare (Fantasy / Concord)

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Record Review: Young Widows’ In and Out of Youth and Lightness

Young Widows: In and Out of Youth and LightnessYoung Widows: In and Out of Youth and Lightness (Temporary Residence, 4/12/11)

Young Widows: “In and Out of Lightness”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Young_Widows_In_and_Out_of_Lightness.mp3|titles=Young Widows: “In and Out of Lightness”]

More than ever, Louisville’s Young Widows is teaching listeners to appreciate the quietness in post-punk.

Consider, for contrast, the slobbering borderline silliness of Pissed Jeans, or any other band that draws on a ton of distortion. At first listen, Young Widows might seem to have something missing. The vocals lead the songs but aren’t panicked or even immediately catchy. The guitars often walk an eerie line between clean and dissonant. The rhythm section — though hardly crude, if you’re paying attention — often favors a ceremonial plod.

In between, there’s a roomy silence, occasionally breached with a wandering guitar echo or backing vocal. But soon it stops feeling incomplete. That lurking silence, and the unresolved feeling that it creates, becomes the hook.

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Q&A: Young Widows

Young Widows: In and Out of Youth and LightnessYoung Widows: In and Out of Youth and Lightness (Temporary Residence, 4/12/11)

Young Widows: “Future Heart”

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Though not a strict departure from previous material, the new album by post-hardcore outfit Young Widows displays a different phase of the band’s career. Calling it a “progression” might apply regressive traits to its first two albums, but In and Out of Youth and Lightness turns down the Cro-Magnon wallop and continues the band’s history of accomplished noise rock.

Its last album, Old Wounds, was a mostly live recording by Kurt Ballou (Converge, Coliseum, Pygmy Lush). In contrast, the new album was produced by the band and Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket) at The Funeral Home in its hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Guitarist and vocalist Evan Patterson joined us to answer a few questions about the band’s songwriting process and what bands people should check out.

How do you describe your music?

I don’t, but if you were a clerk at a gas station, I would tell you that we are a rock band. That’s as far as I can go.

On the new album, there’s a bit of a weird blues influence — less Jesus Lizard pummel and more of a Liars atmospheric vibe. What did you want to do new or different? What did you want to keep the same?

Music has to progress. There are no specific influences. The goal with this album was to find my voice, and that was wholeheartedly achieved. Lyrically, [they’re] the heaviest and most affective songs that I’ve created. Old blues has that same effect on me. It speaks to me. The bridge between modern rock music and blues is a short one, and it’s inevitable that those characteristics will be riding in the same vehicle to achieve certain goals.

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