The Warrior's Code
Oh, Dropkick Murphys, how I've loved you. You're Boston's pride, with energetic songs that recall an angry punk shaking the hand of an angry Irishman. Your songs are inspiring -- about keeping the brotherhood alive and of triumph of will -- but ... we've heard it before. Like, five times. The title track to The Warrior's Code sounds like a new version of "Eye of the Tiger," which is fitting, since it commemorates boxer Micky Ward. And, true, your take on Woody Guthrie's "I'm Shipping up to Boston" is rousing as a sea shanty, but again, a lot of this album sounds like drunken sea shanties. It's not you, it's me. Actually, it is sort of you. I guess what I'm trying to say is ... let's take a break from each other.
The Milk of Human Kindness b>
Dan Snaith, formerly of Manitoba, might have changed his project's name from one Canadian-inspired noun to another, but the music is thankfully similar. "Yeti" opens with heavy layers, as big and enveloping as I imagine a real yeti would be. Contrasting sleigh-bell shimmers with light dance beats brings Christmas to August. There are plenty of short minute-long snippets, each slyly addictive, a blessing for those of us who haven't developed an E-addled tolerance for God-awfully long songs. At times, Human Kindness is so laid back it's drowsy and psychedelic, but the amazing drums on "Brahminy Kite" -- imagine Buddy Rich playing the backbeat to your dreams -- is a reminder of Snaith's ambitions.
Sound of zZz
How to pronounce the band's name? Pretend to snore? Say "zee zee zee"? But zZz's from Amsterdam. Perhaps they use the British "zed zed zed"? Beyond that conundrum, Bjorn Ottenheim (drums/vocals) and Daan Schinkel (organ) produce what amounts to a fairly decent, if not rather derivative, album. Riding the recent wave of lo-fi garage rock, zZz takes turns cribbing vocal stylings from Jon Spencer and Joy Division, with massively uneven results. "Ecstasy" promises danceable gloom, with little delivery, while "House of Sin" beefs it up with gut-rumbling bass. Playing producer on Sound of zZz is Henk Jonkers, notable for his fantastically fun name. Henk! Jonkers!