CDs Nuts

Nellie McKay
(Hungry Mouse)

Somewhere within the Obligatory Villagers album, there’s a really stellar iTunes exclusive downloadable EP. McKay’s always taken risks, but they’ve never paid off at such a low percentage before. A decent quad of songs (Just pretend the godawful fart song “Livin” doesn’t exist, please.) “Gin Rummy,” “Identity Theft,” “Galleon,” and “Politan” rewards your patience with some cool moments and hints at some promising and surprising new directions for her next album (“Galleon,” for example, gets a little P-funkish), but you can always download those for $4 and spare your finger the fast-forwarding.

Cease to Begin
Band of Horses
(Sub Pop)

Anyone who continues to compare Band of Horses to the Shins after hearing Cease to Begin just isn’t paying attention, but the BoH’s sophomore try has at least one thing in common with this year’s Wincing the Night Away: It’s the sound of a band completely coming into its own sound and then ... getting totally mellow.

Cease to Begin is bound for episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and maybe your dad’s record collection, but I dare you to listen to “Is There a Ghost?” or “Detlef Schrempf” and continue to give a rat’s ass who else likes this album. Aw, come ’ere, Cease to Begin. You’re too pretty to stay mad at.

Widow City
The Fiery Furnaces
(Thrill Jockey)

With Widow City, the Furnaces have redeemed themselves for singing with Meemaw. The Furnaces’ famous song segmentation is in full effect, but it’s obvious they’re going for an older sound here, and the usual ’60s-tastic influences are apparent (Beatles, Frank Zappa, Zombies). But everything from noise rock to the Wu-Tang Clan gets a sound check in these 16 tracks.

The thing this album has most in common with all that old wax is probably this: Instead of sounding derivative, all the weirdness actually seems fresh and fun again, qualities sadly missing from a lot of indie rock these days.

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