Nine Inch Nails

Year Zero

Nothing Records; April 2007

It’s hard to imagine a future more bleak than that of Year Zero, the first concept album from the mind of Trent Reznor. During the course of 16 songs, disconnected images of a world where everything basically sucks are pieced together. That world includes an insane cult of religious fanatics at war with totalitarian governments, indoctrinated citizens of war-torn societies, and a narrator who expresses in nearly every song a profound lament. Year Zero may not be very sentimental, but damn does it sound good. It doesn’t take more than a quick listen to beats like that of “My Violent Heart” and “Capital G” to realize this is what tens of thousands of dollars of sound equipment is supposed to sound like. – Levi Michaels


Do You Trust Your Friends?

Arts & Crafts; May 2007

Before you throw down this newspaper and run out to buy the new Stars release, you should know this: It’s a remix album and such creatures are only a stopgap between a band’s real albums to keep said band on your radar. Which isn’t always a bad thing, especially when the original album is as excellent as Set Yourself on Fire. Stars recruit their friends to reinterpret their songs (hence the title) with mostly successful results, including Final Fantasy’s fresh take on “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” while The Dears, Junior Boys, and The Stills also tinker with tracks. It’s hit or miss, to be sure, but until the new Stars album comes out, it’s a fun diversionbecause a year is a long time in pop music. – Brier Random


The Third Hand

XL Recording; March 2007

Already well established as an underground hip-hop solo artist, collaborative musician, and frequent remixer, Rjd2 takes a bold move in a new direction on his first release for XL. Working from his basement studio with his newfound singer/songwriter persona, Rj has created a slick, ’70s-prog-rock-meets-contemporary-electronica concoction ( la Air or Phoenix) replete with a clever sonic palette that references such past masters as Genesis (“Have Mercy”) and King Crimson. The propulsive “Get It” evokes The Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog,” while the mellow “You Never Had It So Good” has a vintage Steely Dan vibe. Best of all is “The Bad Penny”a melange of smooth synth beats and gospel choir samples that achieves an ethereal beauty. – Sean Mageean


Myths of the Near Future

Geffen Records; March 2007

Klaxons are a stylish young trio poised to take over the U.K.-based “new rave” renaissance and their debut disc, Myths of the Near Future, is an art-damaged collage of fractured sounds and styles. The fun and funky “Atlantis to Interzone” sounds like Duran Duran on crack. “Isle of Her” could almost be a long-lost Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd gem. Ambient guru Brian Eno also figures heavily into Klaxons’ mythology, and his influence is all over “Two Receivers.” Droll literary allusions to works by such writers as Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard, William Burroughs, and Richard Brautigan are also interlaced throughout Klaxons’ irreverent tunes. Ultimately, Klaxons might be the cheekier British cousins of American dance-punks The Rapture. But will their future be hit or myth? – SM


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