Wax Pig Melting, Jaded X1,193 (Brain Jelly Music)
A refreshing blast of old-school college rock, this Las Vegas/Pahrump quartet minces neither guitar riffs nor slacker vocals. The Smashing Pumpkins-meets-Pavement roar of “Everything Is Horrible & Will Remain Compromised” is the best thing I’ll likely hear all summer, while retro-grunge ballad “Dirtying Outtage” almost makes me want to unearth those denim shorts I used to wear in the ’90s. Anyone who misses the era of crushing power chords and off-kilter lyrics will adore this. ★★★✩✩
One Pin Short, The Scenic Route EP (Self-released)
Horn-heavy island grooves don’t usually end up in my playlists. But the six romantic songs gathered in this polished EP transport me to beach-bumming reverie. “Since You’ve Come Around” boasts a reverb-drenched guitar line that would swamp the Ventures, and a bass vamp that would arrest the Police. Singers Anthony Jaber (guitar) and Mo Robbins (trumpet) make it sound easy, their harmonies blending smoother than a frosty piña colada. Party music rarely reaches such an artful, infectious plateau. ★★★✩✩
Leaving Springfield, Zihuatanejo (Self-released)
I’ve long admired this rock ’n’ roll two-piece, even if their brand of power pop ends up short on pop and overdone with guitars. Still, it’s hard to deny the effective hook in leadoff track “Burn Out Bright.” “Every Guy,” meanwhile, cleverly critiques the absurd expectations couples bring to relationships. In fact, the solitary moment Springfield stumbles is when they indulge their frat-guy instincts with a tune as tone-deaf as “Donkey Punch.” Otherwise this disc mostly dazzles. ★★★✩✩
Upcoming albums on Jarret’s radar …
JULY 8: Oregon black-metal ensemble Wolves in the Throne Room drop their black-metal approach and return with a full-length release of softer, ambient soundscapes and synth-textures titled Celestite. However, it’s just as nightmarish as anything the band has ever done.
JULY 15: What the hell is “swoon-pop” exactly? Well, its leading practitioner seems to be London’s Woman’s Hour. And minimalist, subtly emotional electro-pop seems to sum up the title track, the shimmering “Conversations,” from the quartet’s debut disc.
JULY 29: Whatever happened to indie-queen Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley and the Watson Twins fame)? Six years after releasing her second album, she’s finally back with Beck-produced The Voyager. Folky, mellow and melodic, first single “Just One of the Guys” sounds just perfect.