Port-Royal blows the roof off their discotheque, cutting the tethers to dance-floor structures and sending their pulsing beats into the stratosphere. “Balding Generation” rockets the crowd into orbit, “Anna Ustinova” is a sudden thunderstorm of drum programming assuaged by female vocals, and the three-part “Hermitage” covers electronic, post-rock, and ambient.

Solo ventures usually trek to new, potentially shaky ground, but Pinback’s Zach Smith plays to his strengths, offering his most intricate pop since Blue Screen Life. Consistency is Smith’s finest virtue, although the cascading vocals of “Quan,” the light funk of “Shape Shifter,” and the insistent “Sand II” all shine.

Splitting the difference between Giorgio Moroder’s electronic disco and the 16-bit themes to Super Nintendo games, CFCF retroactively soundtracks ’80s action films with the longing “Crystal Mines,” the club polish of “Arctic,” and the vocoder coos of “Goodbye.” Hit up Continent, its full-length counterpart, for broader palettes and longer songs.

Jeff Garber abandons his recent flirtations with LA-informed modern rock, returning to the once-discarded National Skyline banner with enough guitar overdubs to stretch back to Champaign. The range of this moody shoegaze impresses: “Kingdom” and “Bloom” explode arenas with sonic blasts, “Solid Cold” is absorbing ambient, and “Revenge” shuffles bittersweetly.

Which side of Withers’ bravado cello performance is more arresting: the dynamic, affecting originals or the inspired covers of the Notwist, Chavez, Don Caballero, Burning Airlines, and Mission of Burma? I’ll side with the originals due to the dizzying drive of “Defenestrations of Prague,” but dare I disregard “For Respect”?

Christian Powell doles out vocals carefully in Ring, Cicada’s primarily instrumental math-rock, but for the comparatively straight-on HOTK, he lets his rangy, Yes-like pipes free. The energetic charge of “Wild Eyed Creatures” and “Disasterol” recalls past Midwestern rock greats, while “Stomp” and “Cool Wind” crib Ring, Cicada’s signature left turns.

The tension is almost unbearable on Geneva, built upon an adroit, merciless rhythm section. Strings, horns, and piano amplify this atmosphere, adding apprehension to “Fathom,” respite to “Hexed All,” and grandeur to “Philos.” Yet instrumental flourishes won’t stave off the monumentally destructive wake that comes when this tension boils over.

Both an out-there time-traveling narrative and an emotional tribute to drummer Brann Dailor’s sister, Crack the Skye puts Mastodon’s increasingly progressive metal to the test. Their bark is less ferocious, but their bite still tears into “Divinations,” the heart-wrenching title track, and intricate epics “The Czar” and “The Last Baron.”

An object lesson in obfuscation, Forget the Night Ahead buries unwelcome memories in blasts of wind-tunnel feedback, migraine-throb rhythms, camouflaged lyrics, and Möbius strip song structures. James Graham’s thick Scottish accent deflects the catharsis of “Reflection on the Television” and “The Neighbours Can’t Breathe,” but these glancing blows still sting.

Allen Epley fully commits to neo-shoegaze, cloaking these muscular frames in gleaming overdubs worthy of the genre’s finest progenitors. Yet the charging catharsis of “The Politics of Driving,” the backmasked wooziness of “The Lucid Dream,” and the distress-call trajectories of “Tragic Boogie” break through this opaque canvas undeterred and victorious.

Rick Froberg’s signature vitriol goes time travelling, picking up enough ’60s surf-rock reverb to fuel Sohrab Habibion’s tremoloed strafing. Hopefully the Creedence-in-hell singe of “Widow of My Dreams,” the nasty undertow of blues standard “Milk Cow Blues,” and the 1950s stomp of “Back and Forth” won’t disrupt the space-time continuum.

Graham Richardson’s pastoral ambience floats by with such elegance that time nearly stops to admire the view. The Steve Reich–informed latticework of “Life Support,” the rural swell of “Fracture,” the measured march of “Onwards,” and the foreboding fuzz of “This Is Not an Ending” are all welcome rest stops.

First Chan Marshall prompted Knock Knock, now Joanna Newsom begets Eagle; perhaps Bill Callahan should break up with more notable songstresses. Rather than wallow, Callahan reviews his persona (“Jim Cain”), inspiration (“Eid Ma Clack Shaw”), and devotion (“Faith/Void”) in his signature universal voice, knowing this recovery process all too well.

Tim Hecker maps new, more hospitable terrain by unearthing the inviting symphonies hidden beneath the white noise peaks of Harmony in Ultraviolet. The organ spires of “Sea of Pulses” bleed into tidal crescents of “The Inner Shore,” then “Pond Life” evaporates into the blissful chimes of “Borderlands.” Chart your course.

Melding the nuance of Body Riddle with the beat blitzkrieg of Turning Dragon, Clark fuels Totems Flare with an endless stream of fresh ideas. The relentless melodies of “Future Daniel,” the squelching schizophrenia of “Totem Crackerjack,” and the resigned vocals of “Talis” are just a sampling of this bountiful buffet.

These simian noise demons plow slabs of distortion into gut-punching, head-spinning songs, winning any nearby loudness wars with their ruthless scorched earth policy. They perfect and promptly destroy stoner-rock boogie on “Trad,” ascendant single riffage on “Sweet T,” gloomy slowcore on “Super Moody,” and the epic album closer on “Starpiss.”

Raekwon recruits an army of top-flight producers and inspired MCs for this long-awaited sequel, but his detail-heavy crime narratives and Ghostface’s sideman act still carry the show. No slight intended to supreme Wu contributions like Inspectah Deck and Method Man on “House of Flying Daggers” and RZA on “Black Mozart.”

Discarding the frenzied yelling and disruptive clatter of Street Horrrsing for new producer Andrew Weatherall’s club polish, Fuck Buttons reach “Mogwai Fear Satan” levels of electronic transcendence on “The Lisbon Maru,” “Olympians,” and “Flight of the Feathered Serpent.” No fear, somnambulists: tribal drum programming and keyboard squelches animate the proceedings.

Few contemporary bands reside near Polvo’s majestic guitar-rock landscape, a geography lesson delivered by the legacy-augmenting In Prism. Even vintage Polvo rarely attained the imperial grace of “A Link in the Chain,” the metallic drive of “Beggar’s Bowl,” and the yearning hooks of “The Pedlar.” Hopefully more voyages are planned.

Like the villain of an ’80s buddy-cop flick, Andy Falkous basks in gleeful violence and caustic humor, conjuring Satan for orgies, throwing punches at passersby, raving about dinosaurs, and scoffing at the afterlife. From “Arming Eritrea” onward, every song hits like a battering ram. Sorry Riggs, this time evil wins.

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