Rusty Maples, Make Way (Self-released)
Every song here rules, but one really stands out. Introduced by Max Plenke’s galloping beat and Ian Dewane’s octave-vamping guitar, “Pockets” opened into a prayer, picking locks of grief and rage. “You’ve been dealt the cruelest fate,” sang frontman Blair Dewane. “One-too-many hardships than your heart can afford.” A hundred Maples fans sang along. I can’t stop playing it or the rest of this stunning EP. If you find a better band in town, or anywhere, let me know. ★★★★☆
Backhouse Lily, Discoma (Self-released)
Here’s a full-bloomed debut from duo Carl Adami (bass) and Bill Maihen (drums), specializing in atmospheric, rockin’ instrumentals that sound unlike anything else. There are familiar influences—Tool’s Lovecraftian menace, The Police’s pop-prog minimalism, Rush’s sci-flying grandeur. But Lily’s lovely “Dark Harmonic,” with Adami’s volume-swelling waves and Maihen’s funky foundation, is unique. The driving, riff-layered “Push” will push you along the highway, while tricky time-signatured “Under the Radar” will rattle you awake en route to Burning Man. ★★★☆☆
3d6, Space Fapping (Self-released)
The three bad boys from the comics-shop backroom are back with a sophomore disc as hilarious as their 2011 debut. New frontman Dave Thomas exudes poise in “Save Does Not End,” the band pledging to “fuck your ears with our nerdpunk dicks.” The music is sophisticated, from the Dead Milkmen jangle of “I Love Star Wars Anyway,” which (mostly) defends George Lucas, to Nirvana-chorded escapist manifesto “I’d Rather Live in an R.P.G.” “Reality can go away,” insists Thomas. God, if only. ★★★☆☆
Upcoming albums on Jarret’s radar …
JAN. 15: Indie mainstay Yo La Tengo shows no sign of fading away with the release of Fade, the band’s 13th album, on Matador. Early reviews insist it’s the band’s loveliest effort to date. JAN. 22: Ska-punk/folk-rock icon Camper Van Beethoven (which has always starred Cracker’s David Lowery) turns 30 and makes yet another comeback with La Costa Perdida. Definitely a strong Eagles-esque, country-pop groove on single “Northern California Girls.” JAN. 29: Lisa Loeb returns to her power-pop roots with seventh album No Fairy Tale, featuring indie duo Tegan and Sara on a couple of tracks. Chad Gilbert of punk band New Found Glory co-produces.