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Parkay Quarts, Machine Head, and I Love You, But I've Chosen Darkness

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Parkay Quarts

Parkay Quarts

Content Nausea

Rough Trade

File next to: Pavement, Phil Ochs

The Savage brothers have carefully honed the dual alter egos of their latest band, with Parquet Courts reserved for formal indie-punk presentations of well-riffed tunes, and the alternately spelled Parkay Quarts intended for looser, more rambling material. Last spring's Sunbathing Animal under the former name was a near-perfect repository of three-minute wonders, but Content Nausea just might be the better album by some measures. Not only does it display the gentle spoofing of Andrew Savage's previous band, Fergus & Geronimo, but surprises abound everywhere: a cover of Nancy Sinatra's "Boots," a long Dylanesque ballad called "Uncast Shadow," a sax-infused slop-rock number called "Pretty Machines," and the title track, which comes across like a compressed version of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl." There's bound to come a time when a band this prolific will exhaust listeners, but not yet. — Loring Wirbel

Machine Head

Machine Head

Bloodstone & Diamonds

Nuclear Blast

File next to: Testament, Pantera

On their eighth album, Machine Head have dialed back the Robb Flynn/Phil Demmel guitar acrobatics in favor of more complex melodic composition. The results are mixed, but generally good. Standout track "Sail into the Black" starts with ominous layered vocals and a patient intro that sets the mood for a churning guitar riff. "Beneath the Silt" is also successful, emphasizing Flynn's melodic vocals. The opening track, "Now We Die," is good. Though the classical strings muddy the chorus, the string intro and refrain are effective and fun. "Game Over" is a big eff-you to ex-bassist Adam Duce. New bassist Jared MacEachern adds insult to injury with a killer riff à la Cliff Burton. The real shame is how much Dave McClain's drumming is pulled back, album-wide. All that said, this album is Machine Head reaching beyond their grasp, which is not a bad thing. — Griffin Swartzell

I Love You, But I've Chosen Darkness

I Love You, But I've Chosen Darkness

Dust

Secretly Canadian

File next to: Bauhaus, Polvo, Interpol

In 2006, the Austin, Texas, band with the world's greatest name released the Goth-influenced Fear Is On Our Side, impressing fans of metal and post-punk, and Joy Division wannabes. The band then vanished, halting shows and web postings without a mention of dissolution. Eight years later, a second album suddenly emerges, with the interplay between singer Christian Goyer and guitarist Ernest Salaz as strong as ever. Paul Barker of Ministry produced both albums by the band, but the sounds of Dust move beyond Ministry and Joy Division dimensions to incorporate a swirling mysticism resembling more recent Polvo releases. A few tracks might lean too closely toward Interpol, but tunes like "Faust" and "Come Undone" display the kind of cold beauty to make I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness' return an unqualified plus for 2014. — Loring Wirbel

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