Show Your Bones
YEAH YEAH YEAHS
Coming right when the mainstream was catching on to New York City's early-'00s No Wave-influenced acts (lumping them all together as "garage rock"), Yeah Yeah Yeahs' first proper full-length, Fever to Tell, was naturally a highly anticipated affair. It was also wildly uneven, with Brian Chase's dynamic percussion, Nick Zinner's inventive, effects-laden guitar, and Karen O's potent combination of sincerity and snarl only really achieving transcendence on the glorious "Maps."
It's been almost exactly three years since Fever to Tell, and a lot has changed on Yeah Yeah Yeahs' periphery. They've changed, too, at least sonically and if only a little. Aesthetically, they're pretty much the same, just a little better and more confident at experimenting within the confines of the angular, emotional, self-consciously poetic post-rock that is now definitely their sound.
Show Your Bones opens strongly with the Love & Rockets-esque "Gold Lion" and taut, keyboard-laden "Way Out," but is characterized by the same win-some/ lose-some discontinuity that marked Fever. "Fancy" drags, "Phenomena" is crippled by excessive sound effects, and "Mysteries" could be a too-weird Strokes castoff, while closers "Warrior" and "Turn Into" return to the high quality of the disc's first two tracks.
The individual performances — particularly Karen O's ever-stronger amalgam of Patti Smith and Dale Bozzio — are often stunning; it's just that sometimes the songs don't quite come together. And, like the group's first long-player, there's one song here that towers above the rest, serving as an example of exactly what this outfit is capable of: "Cheated Hearts." 3.5 stars Scott Harrell
THE BLACK KEYS
Released a year and a half after the triumphant Rubber Factory, this six-song EP covering songs by the late hill-country blues titan Junior Kimbrough could've been a letdown. It's anything but. Kimbrough's music, born in northern Mississippi, is built on dire, droning riffs rather than the standard 12-bar chord changes. It's all dark country roads and back alleys and creeping dread and forbidden sex, the perfect fit for the garage-blues duo from Akron, Ohio. Hearing Kimbrough was what set singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach on the course to being a musician, and that ups the conviction that he and his partner, drummer Patrick Carney, bring to these songs. Auerbach's black-cat moan evokes the requisite sense of danger to these tales of lust, violence and woe, but his guitar work is even more the story. While he's no dazzling technician, his solos are developing into more fleshed-out statements, and he seems eager to stretch out some. His tone is full of buzz and grind and hypnotic groove, and now and again he lets loose with an absolutely corrosive lick. Spine-chilling. As we eagerly await the next Black Keys original project, Chulahoma is a more than satisfying tideover. (www.fatpossum.com) 4 stars Eric Snider
You in Reverse
BUILT TO SPILL
It's hazardous to boil down a great band's greatness to a single factor, but Built to Spill's appeal is pretty simple. Over the course of its career, the group has completely mastered an elemental throb that even touches the most effete of indie snobs: the riff. Countless invisible strings have been busted in bedroom windmills thanks to Doug Martsch and Co. You in Reverse, the band's seventh LP, is further evidence of the group's six-string mastery. "Goin' Against Your Mind" — the nearly-nine-minute opener — is really little more than a loose grab-bag of lyrics sewn together by the band's electric genius, and "Conventional Wisdom" holds even more instantly recognizable riffery. Time to tune up the air guitar. 4 stars Cooper Lane Baker
Brotherman in the Fatherland
RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK
The third in a series of unearthed Kirk concert recordings released on producer Joel Dorn's Hyena label, Brotherman in the Fatherland (recorded in '72 in Hamburg, Germany) captures a typically messy, at times unhinged performance by the multi-hornman. The blues runs deep throughout. Kirk turns Bread's wimpy ballad "Make it With You" into gutbucket romp. He concludes with the Coltrane troika "Lush Life" (via Johnny Hartman), "Afro Blue" and an extended "Blue Trane." Kirk's tenor work is bruising throughout, but his forays into flute, stritch, manzello and other exotic axes sometimes come off as little more than indulgences or gimmicks. (www.hyenarecords.com) 3.5 stars ES