Ahleuchatistas, What You Will (Cuneiform Records). Technically, Ahleuchatistas makes instrumental rock -- but that prosaic description does no justice to the intense, intelligent brand of aural freakiness this North Carolina trio dishes out. Cuts such as "Remember Rumsfeld at Abu Ghraib" feature tricky time signatures, adventurous arrangements and stunningly precise playing. That's the triumph of Will. -- Roberts
Delta 5, Singles & Sessions 1979-1981 (Kill Rock Stars). Resurrected from relative obscurity, Kill Rock Stars reintroduces the world to Delta 5, a Leeds five-piece spawned from the same post-punk aesthetic that brought us Gang of Four and the Slits. Snide and combative vocal chants -- like the Marvelettes, only deader -- seizure their way around spastic guitar that aerially bombards the tracks in tight, twitchy bursts. The raw progenitors of lesser imitators like the Waitresses and Romeo Void, Delta 5 proves itself unfairly forgotten. -- Sawyer
Tony Gilkyson, Goodbye Guitar (Rolling Sea Records). Tony Gilkyson has always had a singular tone that other guitarists admire. The restless former X guitarist strikes a honky-tonk groove on Goodbye Guitar, but the songs have more in common with Leonard Cohen than with Merle Haggard. The undertones are dark, and Gilkyson's world-weary vocals are perfect for this gritty California Outlaw record. -- William Michael Smith
Nebula, Apollo (Liquor & Poker). Nebula is too fun for stoner rock but almost too tripped-out and psych-laden to be called anything else. Stripped down enough to avoid the pitfalls of cock rock but lacking in the ultra-heavy depths of doom metal, the band makes headway as leather-jacket-wearing dudes with sweet wah-wah guitar pedals. -- Tuyet Nguyen
Anna Oxygen, This Is an Exercise (Kill Rock Stars). Anna Oxygen would have you believe she's the second coming of Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush -- but she comes off more like Laura Branigan. Which is by no means a bad thing: On Exercise, art-rock quirk is splintered by lush yet skeletal electro-pop, while Oxygen's gulped libretto references neon, hypertension and biology. Pop is the operative word, though, and that pushes Exercise far past its rarefied inspirations. -- Heller
Test Icicles, For Screening Purposes Only (Domino). Pity the poor Icicles: While Arctic Monkeys, their labelmates, are reaping a publicity bonanza, they're left with the scraps, despite having released a more exciting disc. Granted, their tunes are less commercial, but they're also less predictable, with visceral screeching and abrupt instrumental twists adding a welcome touch of hysteria to the proceedings. This Test is successful. Roberts
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