Spin these new albums

Four hot albums released during the past four months. Check it.

The Dead Weather

Horehound

(July 14, Third Man)

White Stripes frontman Jack White takes a behind-the-scenes role in his latest project, The Dead Weather, which brings together lead singer Alison Mosshart (of London-based lo-fi post-punk duo The Kills), Raconteurs' bassist Jack Lawrence and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita.

The foursome involved weren't fucking around when they went into the studio to produce the 11 tracks on Horehound. Written and recorded in a mere three weeks, the hard rock album is deeply rooted in the greasy, blues-infused sounds of the '70s, and each member adds a distinctive zing to the mix.

Mosshart leads with sultry, chick-with-grit vocals, recklessly drawn to the harsh treatment of a cruel and shameless lover in one song and callously mistreating her own long-suffering flame by the next, with a snarling, "I like to grab you by the hair / and drag you to the devil." A surprisingly capable rock drummer, White spends most of the album pounding out heavy doom beats, though he makes a few well-timed vocal appearances that play on his sizzling chemistry with Mosshart; songs like the two seething scorchers, "I Cut Like a Buffalo" and "Treat Me Like Your Mother," almost verge on the aggro funk-metal of Rage Against the Machine, complete with White's staccato, rapping-style of lyrical delivery. Lawrence provides the fatty basslines and fuzzed-out grooves. And Fertita's use of a vintage organ and Moog synths paired with his fiery reverb-drenched and warped-noted riffage really takes the album out there, propeling the music beyond the confines of hard rock and into sinister space, most noticeably in "3 Birds," an instrumental cut that rides a tide of spooky sci-fi stealth.

Horehound's sole issue is that the epic rock numbers are broken up by several forgettable ones, songs that sound great upon first spin but leave little or no lingering impression. 1/2

The Postmarks

Memoirs at the End of the World

(August 25, Unfiltered)

With singer Tim Yehezkely's girlishly sweet, breathy opening vocals in "No One Said It Would Be Easy," The Postmarks introduce their latest turn: cinematic pop fit for a 007 soundtrack from the late '60s, with subject matter ranging from saving the world to saving a girl to the "Lucky Charm" paramour who keeps his lady safe from harm ("Dangerous explosives all disarm / whenever you are on my arm"). Memoirs at the End of the World dazzles with drama and effortless elegance, a near-dozen guest musicians joining the Miami trio and giving the album its luscious sound. Orchestral swells of strings and horns provide rich texture while other instruments add tasteful adornment — a trill of theramin, the spaghetti western strum of baritone guitar, the sweet bell-like tones of a hammered dulcimer, the organic rhythms of vibraphone, timpani and other symphonic percussion, all amidst dreamy surreal moments of blissfully swaying music that builds slowly and ends softly.

Phish

Joy

(September 8, JEMP Records)

Phish announced they were calling it quits a month before dropping their 10th official studio album in 2004. Their last release under Elektra, Undermind was a brilliant work, moody and driving psyche rock studded with upbeat pop and the odd goof-off. But its dark and melancholy moments were too much a reflection of Phish's own unhealthy state at the time, and the shadow of their imminent demise hung over the music, making it easy to appreciate but hard to enjoy.

This year, Phish reunited, hit the studio with producer Steve Lilywhite (who'd worked with the band in 1996 on the masterful Billy Breathes), and laid down the tracks to their 11th full-length, Joy, which finds the foursome revitalized and at ease with each other again. It shows in the songwriting, their lyricism more introspective and sentimental than ever before. Much of Joy deals with the passage of time and touches upon grim subject matter — like the death of frontman/guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio's older sister and his recovery from his own very public substance abuse problems. But the dour cynicism and melancholy you'd expect are absent. Instead, the tone of the album is bright and buoyant as the band reminisces about the past, celebrates the present and appreciates friends and family who've been there throughout.

The band eases in and out of bouncy rhythms and blues, offering plenty of unadulterated good-time moments all throughout, as in the funky, island-flavored groove-and-sway and spot-on ascending harmonies of "Sugar Shack," the Southern rock grit and wailing solos of "Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan" and the ambient electro opening of "Light," which kicks into high gear with rollicking rhythms and spiraling notes rising to a climactic, fast-paced jam rock crescendo.

The album is a cohesive, well-produced, heartfelt effort, and one thing is certain: Phish has brought the joy back to their music. 1/2

Hockey

Mind Chaos

(October 6, Capitol)

Mind Chaos is a debut littered with hit songs. In fact, the album was already pretty damn good when Portland-based foursome Hockey initially self-released it as an EP in 2008. But after getting picked up by Capitol Records, Mind Chaos was remixed, remastered and rounded out with several new songs for its major label re-release this week.

Post-punk strut with an electro disco swagger, the music on Mind Chaos is made for dancing with too cool 'tude. Hockey singer Ben Grubin's smokey growl oozes Rod Stewart sexiness and he delivers his verses with cocky ease, from his back-and-forth with himself in the snotty opener, "Too Fake," to his blasé weariness in the supple grooves of "Work," to his flippant spoken word lyricism in the lively "3AM Spanish," to his unselfconscious wish in "Wanna Be Black," to his howling and crooning soulfulness in "Curse This City."

Overall, an easy-to-like dance record by a band worthy of the buzz.

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