ARMY OF ANYONE
Army of Anyone

(The Firm)

I’d be so much more excited about the return of the Brothers DeLeo if it didn’t also involve the return of that dude from Filter (how do you go from “Hey Man, Nice Shot” to “Take a Picture”–you know “Awake on my airplane/Awake on my airplane/My skin is bare/My skin is theirs”?). Still, it’s nice to see something moderately interesting coming from Dean and Robert who, let’s face it, were screwed time and time again by that egomaniac, Scott Weiland. STP fans rejoice, the babies are back. But tell me, which is worse-dealing with Slash and Duff, or dealing with Richard Patrick? Too bad we just can’t have STP back…

BLACKHEART WHITENOISE
BlackHeart WhiteNoise

(self-released)

For having just come together in March of ’06, this band is incredibly tight (you know, kids, “close knit,” not “super cool, omg”). They’ve got a great following too, and they just opened for Jet in Portland (I’d knock that, but for a local, okay, it’s a good gig). There’s a slew of influences to be seen here–whether or not the band is completely annoying for citing Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine AND Sonic Youth in describing themselves remains to be seen. (Okay, they are.) Try to look past it, though, because Portland, as I’ve said time and time again, has a lot of talent to boast, and Blackheart is working their way up that ladder of deserving praise.

FLEE THE CENTURY
Beyond the Moonwalker

(self-released)

There probably aren’t enough kids in Spokane to make Flee the Century as popular as they should be. Acts of this caliber in places like LA or San Diego have (strictly) all ages followings that would rival in size any would-be “indie rock” band in the scene. So you’re lucky to have them, Spokane, and don’t let it go unrecognized. For someone who’s always appreciated the screamers-you-can-dance-to, Moonwalker is an f-ing gem. Flee the Century is not only the best band in Spokane in its given genre, it’s also just one of the best bands, period.

ALBERT HAMMOND JR.
Yours to Keep

(Rough Trade)

Strokes fans are split on this-they’re not sure if they have to like it, or if they have to hate it. Does it mark the end of the Strokes as we know them? Does it signal disunity in our band of bands? I’ll take on the role of the levelheaded Strokes fan. It’s true that this album is filled with Albert’s rejected Strokes contributions-which is sad, sure. It’s true that the other members of the band are seemingly busy with their ladies and their babies (and Albert’s on-again-off-again with foxy Cat from the Pierces). But, ultimately, Yours to Keep is really great, and Strokes fans the world over (and really just everyone) should appreciate it as an in-between in Strokes history. It’ll be released in the US in late January. Save some holiday cash.

INCUBUS
Light Grenades

(Epic)

I don’t know many people anymore who admit to liking Incubus. (Yes, the album is selling well, so they are around-maybe I run in the wrong circles, and actually, I know I do). In fact I can take inventory rather quickly (Hi Brian!). I don’t get it. There isn’t an Incubus album I don’t like-even that stupid mushroom album had something to offer. They are consistently good and consistently different. Aside from that stupid copycat Hoobastank that popped up for awhile in the annoying column, Incubus’ sound is something you don’t find in any other band (and Hoob never got it right, anyway). This means they aren’t trying to be trendy, and they therefore can’t be seen as “cool” anymore. Screw that. They put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen and they are one of the most genuinely likeable bands around right now. PLUS, they are touring with Albert Hammond Jr., and that’s just awesome! Seattle, January 6!

The Melvins
A Senile Animal

(Ipecac Recordings)

About once a year I give my car a good cleaning. I’m always amazed at the sludge that I find in the wheel wells of the car. It’s dense, hardened, grotesque-but always impressive. How is it possible for such a cocktail of sludge to end up on my car on an annual basis? Equally quixotic is how the Melvins can so regularly push out such plodding and impenetrable music. Not once a year, but three times a year! “A Senile Animal” has it all. Metal, doom, jazzy-fusion, rock, and most importantly two drummers. Embrace the sludge…it’s not going away anytime soon.

MISTRESS AND THE MISTERS
Conflagration

(self-released)

It’s a good time to be a Spokane music fan, isn’t it? We’re just bursting with bands that mix genres like it ain’t no thang, creating music that’s unheard of in our much-much bigger western neighbor. SWEET! Add to the mix Mistress & the Misters, a band whose sound I must have completely forgotten because I had no idea it was going to be this good. And it’s really good. It’s like some sort of Southern Rock-Funk-Hillbilly hybrid band with a firecracker shot up its bum. Cough, cough, press quote, cough, cough.

OHIOAN & ADAM GNADE
Split EP

(Native Kin)

We’ll say from the git-go that in recent months enough ink has been spent on Adam Gnade that if you haven’t checked him out yet yr a fool. Here’s one last reminder. Now we’ll proceed on from those (wonderful, worship-worthy) tracks, and set our sights on Ohioan, aka Ryne Warner, of Portland, OR. The final seven tracks on this split EP, exploding with talent and needing-to-be-heard voices, are his. Warner’s a charmingly disheveled chap with cacophony to spare. His tracks are sparse, but overwhelming, distant, but heartfelt. Limited run of 100 copies, they do say, so you best act fast. And, the packaging includes short stories and other loveliness by these two incredibly amazing gentlemen. Hurry!

ROBBERS ON HIGH STREET
The Fatalist and Friends

(New Line)

When the band behind one of your favorite debut albums is in the process of recording their sophomore effort, worry is inevitable. They’re teetering now on trying to “expand their sound” and “evolve as musicians,” and what it always translates to as a fan is “oh, shi-.” When I saw pictures of Robbers on High Street in the studio barefoot and with their new long locks, worry hit the roof. But someone behind them had a great idea-release this digital EP to show everybody that they can stop worrying, this evolution is phenomenal. If these tracks are any indication, the new material from Robbers is more distinctly theirs (they were oft-labeled a just another NY band), and in that has developed the importance they were offering before-the gentle pop, the catchy hooks, and the friendly, accessible vibes that made them a much more comfortable band than most they were said to be copying. Maybe it’s because they’ve been recording in Echo Park in LA. Hmm. So there, New York.

J Dilla
The Shining

J Dilla, also known as producer/DJ extraordinaire Jay Dee, died of complications of Lupus in 2006. Like most deceased in hip-hop artists he’s got a couple of posthumous CDs in him. Unlike like most posthumous releases this one is actually a gem. Great beats, great music in a range of styles-hardcore thumpin’ to romantic. The list of guest MCs is long prestigious: Common, Madlib, D’Angelo, Pharoahe Monch, and Busta Rhymes. If the record has one weakness it’s that some of the MCs either didn’t bring their ‘A’ game or met their match in J Dilla’s complex, but funky melodies. (I’m talk ’bout YOU Mr. Rhymes.) Don’t let that deter you though. This is an excellent recording by a artist who clearly left life in his creative prime. A portion of the proceeds go to Lupus research.