Black Camaro, Black Camaricans (Self-released)
Wow. The once shabby, stoned grandeur of these underdogs has been completely replaced by polished, razor-sharp popcraft. Third disc (the first in seven years) Black Camaricans marks a transition as profound as Guided by Voices’ late-’90s major-label foray. Leadoff track “Summer of Dirt” is an urgent lament about dog-day romance, while the gritty, electro-rockin’ “Charlemagne” is a regal treat with a chewy guitar solo at its center. Listen long enough and you’ll want to take up permanent residence within the sonic borders of the country called Black Camarica. ★★★★☆
Most Thieves, Unnecessary Maps (Self-released)
With an enormous sound that could fill a hundred stadiums, this quintet keeps growing in popularity and momentum (they open for the Killers Dec. 28-29 at the Cosmopolitan). The Thieves’ debut is a majestic, if melancholy, 13-track affair. From the opener, string-laden “Salt Lake City,” in which singer Eric Koch asks, What is a life/without forgiveness?, to closing ballad “An Ocean Between Us,” with its bottomless layers of acoustic guitars and piano notes and an ambient outro, Maps stakes out a vast terrain most bands can’t even imagine. ★★★★☆
Imagine Dragons, Night Visions (Interscope)
Imagine a once-good band stooping to appeal to the pop market—cuddly hip-hop beats, cutesy synth runs not even Owl City would touch with a 10-foot badminton racket, and vocals (via front man Dan Reynolds) that only outline a sketch of U2-level grandiosity. Still, the Dragons are blowing up, and single “It’s Time” sold 356,000 downloads. Darker songs that didn’t make the earlier Continued Silence EP shine here—“Bleeding Out,” “Underdog,” “Tiptoe.” These choice cuts make it hard to dismiss Reynolds & Co. as mere moneymaking, parent-pleasing geniuses. ★★☆☆☆
Upcoming albums on Jarret’s radar …
SEPT. 25: Already-acclaimed Scottish indie-art rock quartet Django Django releases its eponymous folktronic debut on the Ribbon Music label. OCT. 2: Velvet Underground icon John Cale unveils the intriguingly titled Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, which includes the Danger Mouse-produced single “I Wanna Talk 2 U.” OCT. 9: Curious to hear alt-rock act Foo Fighters join John Fogerty in tackling his songbook on a track like “Fortunate Son”? Hear the results on Wrote a Song for Everyone, featuring classic do-overs with today’s stars, plus new tunes. OCT. 16: KISS reapplies their makeup for Monster, their 20th studio album of original material.