1. The Residents, Demons Dance Alone (East Side Digital)
On which the venerable, yet vulnerable, eyeballs assess loss, longing and fear in a post-9/11, and make a lasting, haunting elegy in the process–without ever mentioning the events of that landmark day.
2. Max Eider, Hotel Figueroa (Vinyl Japan)
Once and future Jazz Butcher guitarist finally gets around to making his sophomore disc and man is it a doozy. Throw out your Combustible Edison records now, and replace them with this.
3. Pere Ubu, St. Arkansas (spinART)
The Cleveland legends just keep getting stronger as they go, releasing one of their most clangorous and yet hardest rocking records since Modern Dance days.
4. Mindless Self Indulgence, Alienating Our Audience (Uppity Cracker)
A live document filled with crucial early tracks and choice new songs, guaranteed to make you grab your chair to stop the room from spinning.
5. Wire, Read and Burn 01/02 (pinkflag)
Two separate EP’s, one very focused band, returning to their spiky roots without losing the benefits gained by three decades’ worth of arty pioneering.
6. Various Artists, Rise Above (Sanctuary)
The Rollins Band covers two dozen classic Black Flag tunes with guest vocal turns from every influential screamer in modern metal, all to benefit the legal defense fund of the West Memphis Three. The music’s as good as the cause.
7. System of a Down, Steal This Album! (American)
As my friend Russell noted: “How can their leftovers still be better than what everybody else is doing?” It’s a mystery, but he’s right.
8. Check Engine, Check Engine (Southern)
Weird skronky sax and guitar music with emo vocals so the kids can sing along.
9. Peter Gabriel, Up (Geffen)
His most challenging and claustrophobic work since his landmark third album, a welcome return to vintage form.
10. Butthole Surfers, Humpty Dumpty LSD (Latino Buggerveil)
A tape cleaning exercise from the ‘80s that gives yet another datapoint into how magical this band can be when they’re playing at the top of their game.