Records are rated on a scale of one (awful) to four (classic) stars:
ATOMS FOR PEACE 'Amok' (XL)
3 stars = Good
Atoms for Peace arose out of the touring band Thom Yorke assembled for 2009's "The Eraser." That album, the first solo record from Radiohead's singer, focused on the jittery electronic textures that have been a major part of Radiohead's vocabulary since "Kid A," although with a comparatively narrow palette. "Amok" is an extension of "The Eraser," although it's a more dynamic and urgent album.
It grew out of jam sessions between Mr. Yorke, multi-instrumentalist Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's longtime producer), bassist Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco, and many songs build slowly on repetitive deeply layered grooves. The result isn't too distant from the subdued end of Radiohead's broad spectrum. (One song, "Judge, Jury and Executioner," even takes its title from the subtitle of Hail to the Thief's "Myxomatosis.") Mr. Yorke sings of paranoia and dislocation, and brooding, nervous tension is the prevailing mood.
-- Steve Klinge, The Philadelphia Inquirer
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys" (Anti-)
3 1/2 stars = Very good
It goes without saying that the double disc "Son of Rogues Gallery," a 36-song compendium featuring Keith Richards and Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Michael Stipe and Courtney Love, Johnny Depp, Macy Gray, Dr. John and many others, is a rambling, shambling affair.
The sequel to 2006's "Rogues Galley," the current seafaring collection once again has longtime "Saturday Night Live" musical director and professional eclecticist Hal Willner acting as the musical captain of the ship. And while the results are all over the place, they're also remarkably consistent and inspired, a collection of ghostly, doomy, yet full-of-life sing-alongs. Unexpected highlights include such oddities as Anjelica Huston and the Weisberg Strings' "Missus McGraw" and an Antony, Joseph Arthur and Foetus version of "Barnacle Bill the Sailor." There are also standout tracks from Shane MacGowan, Iggy Pop and Marianne Faithfull.
-- Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
Johnny Marr, "The Messenger": The former Smiths guitarist sounds completely confident and at ease on this first album under his own name
Mount Moriah, "Miracle Temple": Mount Moriah is music that is deeply Southern, that borrows from country and soul traditions but refuses to wallow in the past. It's a brilliant new sound from a new band.
Steven Wilson, "The Raven That Refused to Sing": With his third solo outing, it's clear that prog is not only still around, it may just be the dominant trait. Mr. Wilson cites the ghost stories of the early 19th century as literary influences to the ghost stories that make up the lyrical matter of each of the six tracks.
Other notable releases: Joan Armatrading, "Starlight"; The Mavericks, "In Time."