Lullabies for the Deranged

Wallow in the mire of the year's best scuzz rock

Various artists, Invaders (Kemado): This comp is a sweet collection of sonic concrete from all across the country. The final cut includes picks from other bands on this list (Comets, Danava), some squirrelly psychedelia from Dungen, Big Business' Harley-rumbling bass 'n' drums assault, and slightly more straightforward fare from Bay Area metal mavens High on Fire and Saviours. Bonus: not one but two references to black magic — J. Mascis' Witch and Sweden's Witchcraft.

Citay, Citay (Important): This S.F. act is perhaps the gentlest of the bunch, its percussion a mix of bongos and bigger beats; its intertwined, grandiose guitars bringing out trickles of Thin Lizzy; and its enchanted Zeppelin vibe setting the group's eponymous debut on fire. The mostly instrumental songs are heavily contemplative and full of mandolins — Citay forges trails through a brave new world of music that can only be called "chamber metal." A quiet storm brews elegantly here, although the overall feeling is still very paganistic.

Comets on Fire
Comets on Fire

Boris, Pink (Southern Lord): For an album with a title on the lighter end of the color chart, Pink is cement gray from start to finish. This Japanese power trio makes an atomic amount of noise, and the closest it comes to a chorus is still subterranean sludge by most standards. Press "play" and you're instantly inside a voluminous dustbowl, howling Stooges-fueled vocals resonating from within all that distortion. Then, just like that, the clutter clears for one bright moment, and two minutes of serene space-rock float by before the next anvil-to-the-ol'-skull drops from the Boris heavens.

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