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“Killing Joke”
Killing Joke
(Zuma)

Dave Grohl, the most accommodating hard-rock drummer in the world, gives Killing Joke yet another reason to reunite, which is good news not only for the band’s old fans, but for young ‘uns who think nihilistic metal begins and ends with Korn. All the original members are here (except drummer Paul Ferguson) , and vocalist Jaz Coleman never sounded so carcinogenic. With Gang of Four founder Andy Gill producing, the album overcomes a lot of the monochrome monotony that has characterized KJ’s music since their early 80s heyday. It’s funk metal pumped up with pure oxygen, ready to explode. (Philip Brasor)


“Romp”
Chris Duarte Group
(Zoe)

Among the contenders to the Stevie Ray Vaughan throne for hottest blues-rock guitarist is Chris Duarte. His blistering electric-guitar style owes plenty to Vaughan, and to a host of blues guitarists, but on this, his fourth release, he comes into his own with solid vocals and tasty originals. Duarte’s guitar playing is amply showcased on the instrumentals, with only the blues and drums propelling him along. Like the best fast-blues players, he has the ability to be seemingly in two places on the fretboard at once. His fiery licks don’t slow up on “Romp,” but he does open more space between notes, allowing deeper feeling to come pouring through. While the rave-up gutbucket jams, such as the self-titled opener and “B Flat Blues,” are packed with Stratocaster magic, the slower numbers bring chills. “Romp” is blues-rock guitar at its finest. (Michael Pronko)


“Yoko”
Beulah
(Velocette)

The romantically dark album “Yoko” from San Francisco-based lo-fi band Beulah demands a listen. From guitars to banjos to violins, Beulah succeeds nicely in creating a sonic patchwork you won’t hear from many others. Mysterious melodies abound. “Wipe Those Prints and Run” takes an almost death march pace as Miles Kurosky advises us to take the small successes and don’t look back. “Me and Jesus Don’t Talk Anymore” is part ’60s pop, part prairie jangle-rock and a lot of fun to hear. So many styles are deftly packed into one song as Kurosky sings about the treadmill of uncertainties in life. The best of the best on “Yoko” (possibly short for “You’re Only King Once,” says Beulah) is “Fooled Around With the Wrong Guy,” a nose-thumbing at a lost love. Beautiful reverb guitar is sprinkled with kitschy banjo bridges. They’ve done Earl Scruggs proud. (Ron Harris, AP)

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