Feed the Animals
Defying all logic, AD/HD-friendly DJ Greg Gillis managed to find a few songs he didn’t use on his sample-crazy breakthrough Night Ripper. Even more unbelievably, the unholy casserole of everything from ringtone rap to art rock hasn’t gotten old yet. Feed the Animals, released as a donation-soliciting download on the Illegal Art website, finds Gillis damn near perfecting the form. Greater manipulation of the sources (check out the Kanye-esque sped-up bits from “The Weight” and “Nothing Compares 2 U”) and an even greater mastery of the mashup allow Lil Wayne to rap over the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thin Lizzy to accompany Soulja Boy with minimal awkwardness. You can even dance to it, if all the beat hopping doesn’t induce a seizure.
The Hold Steady
Smart-ass takes on substance abuse, dead-end relationships and Christianity might get old some day, but the band’s perfect streak remains intact for now. “One for the Cutters” tweaks the formula by adding a serial killer, and album highlight (and song-of-the-year candidate) “Lord I’m Discouraged” handles the subjects with a heartbreaking sincerity. The focus here will be Craig Finn’s lyrics and much-improved vocal range, but it’s the underappreciated band members — especially lead guitarist Tad Kubler and multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay — who keep the bar-band act from getting stale by expanding the musical palette beyond the usual classic-rock riffage.
Nude With Boots
The Melvins’ umpteenth release, and second with the rhythm section from Big Business, may be their most easily accessible — relatively speaking of course. Longtime fans will be happily familiar with the plodding noise of tracks such as the vicious “Dog Island” and downright abrasive “It Tastes Better than the Truth,” but flirtations with bombastic ’70s guitar heroics (“Suicide in Progress”), spaghetti-western soundtracking “Dies Iraes,” and even honest-to-god vocal harmonies (amazing opener “The Kicking Machine”) can be enjoyed by those with more sensitive eardrums.