Off With Their Heads – Home
★★ (out of 5 stars)
Midwestern angst merchants Off With Their Heads retain their gruff traditional punk sound on this latest platter, bitterly kvetching about their internal emotional struggles as a Rancid-y whirlwind rages behind them. Singer Ryan Young continues to command with a razor throat that gives the guitar a run for its money. Of course, you might not buy lyrics like "I don't feel like me, whoever that's supposed to be" if Young took the Dan Fogelberg approach. You might not buy it anyway, but at least Off With Their Heads have a pulse. As far as paint-by-numbers "rawk" goes, you could do much worse. – James Greene Jr.
The Men – New Moon
★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Sacred Bones Records
Hot on the heels of last year's Open Your Heart, critical darlings the Men serve up a record that smacks more of world-weary alt-country than lo-fi Brooklyn noise punk. These slide-guitar-tinged slogs are just relaxing and charming enough to warrant cracking open another beer. The high point here is wavering instrumental "High and Lonesome," the finest tribute Santo and Johnny are sure to receive in our new century. It wouldn't be a Men record without some bluster, though, and that's just what we get in the eight-minute closing storm of "Supermoon." The spirit of Motor City rock breathes heavily through that delight. – JG
They Might Be Giants – Nanobots
★ (out of 5 stars)
They're 16 albums deep, and it shows: The chunky weirdness that made They Might Be Giants so fascinating years before has washed away, leaving the two Johns to fiddle about in some weird, post-lounge version of their own band. They can try to defend the assorted 10- to 40-second bursts of underdeveloped ideas that make up half this album as some kind of experiment, but TMBG just sound tired and noncommittal. Half-cooked quirk is almost worse than no quirk at all. The "Ana Ng" or "Birdhouse" you want never comes on Nanobots, and you're left yearning for the pre-Frankie Muniz years of this quasi-novelty institution. – JG
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