Steel Panther, All You Can Eat (Open E Music)
L.A. comedy-metal act Steel Panther has played enough Vegas dates to be deemed honorary Sin Citizens, and their fourth disc of raunchy, headbanging tunes should earn them additional fans. This time around, the production is heavier (check out the lashing guitar riffs in “Pussywhipped”), the lyrics more absurdly pornographic (e.g. “Gangbang at the Old Folks Home,” a Van Halen homage about a pizza-delivery kid partaking in, yup, a nursing-home orgy). The Panther perversely rocks. ★★★✩✩
Parade of Lights, Golden EP (Astralwerks)
After leaving Las Vegas for L.A., this quartet of young synth-rockers signed with Astralwerks and meticulously self-produced their debut four-track EP. It’s full of melodic sucker punches, from the explosive chorus and banging drum loop of “Burn” to the keyboard-avalanching hook and percussive gait of “Golden.” The best cut is still the single “We’re the Kids,” but I’m growing fonder of dark-horse, summer-fun cut “The Island,” easily on par with anything M83 has done recently. ★★★✩✩
Red Dragon Cartel, Red Dragon Cartel (Frontiers)
Ex-Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and current Vegas resident Jake. E. Lee shredded on classic ’80s albums such as Bark at the Moon and The Ultimate Sin. Since then, Lee has accomplished, well, not much worth noting really. That changes with the self-titled debut of Lee’s new band Red Dragon Cartel, featuring singer Darren James Smith (Warmachine), bassist Ronnie Mancuso (Beggars & Thieves) and drummer Jonas Fairley (Black Betty). Smith apes Ozzy’s vocal style, especially on “Deceived,” a too-obvious ploy. Still, Lee is in fine form, offering killer songs and lethal solos. ★★★✩✩
Upcoming on Jarret’s radar …
APRIL 15: No less than Kurt Cobain was a fan of Japanese cult trio Shonen Knife, who toured with Nirvana on the band’s Nevermind tour. The sisters in punk-rock arms return with their 20th album, Overdrive. “Bad Luck Song” proves that these ladies’ knack for delivering gritty bubblegum pop hasn’t waned.
APRIL 22: Former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach is set to unveil his fifth record Give ’Em Hell. This time his band includes former Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan. First single “Temptation” is terrific, and I look forward to hearing Bach’s cover of April Wine ballad “Rock N Roll Is a Vicious Game.”
APRIL 29: The first Pixies album in 23 years is called Indie Cindy? Say no more: I’m buying it.