Titus Andronicus-The Monitor: If the Pogues had grown up in New Jersey and if Bright Eyes were fronting this band, this is what you'd have. (especially if time meant nothing and they were fed on a diet of B.S. and Paul Westerberg.) I like it well enough, but i wouldn't want to go to the prom with it.
Hold Steady-Heaven is Whenever: Craig Finn sings. Franz Nicolay, and his swirling piano fills, has left the band. The band is older, wiser (maybe), and a little more removed (economically, philosophically, and in status) from the characters about which they write (and they don't so much write about characters this time, much more---but really less---meta this time out). Nothing really jumps out at me here ("The Sweet Part of the City" is the closest to a compulsive listen for me and not even really). Don't hate it, just don't love it like i did Separation and Boys and Girls. Two shrugs in a row now. Albums won't save you, but maybe the b sides will.
Broken Social Scene-Forgiveness Rock: Just get it and listen. Only quibble would be more Feist, but i know on which side of the bread the butter lay.
The New Pornographers-Together: If the NPs are Fleetwood Mac, this is definitely their Mirage. I dentifiable and serviceable, but mostly forgettable. Lindsey (A.C. Newman) tries his best but used his best stuff on his solo work. Stevie (Neko) is in the band, but too busy with her solo career to really step forward and own anything (and definitely becoming a stereotype), and Ms. Perfect (Destroyer) is pretty much stuck in a holding pattern (weirly though, Bejar's songs usually seemed out of place on the NPs albums, here, they are much more homogenous to the mix, but unfortunately, kinda boring as well). Here's hoping for some drug fueled break ups before the next one.
Hole-Nobdy's Daughter: I keep waiting for Courtney Love to have a Marianne Faithfull-like transformation(god knows her voice is 73.2% of the way there) and dazzle us all with some soulful, powerful revaltory work. Or barring that, I would wish she would at least buy a vowel, solve the puzzle and move onto the bonus round in life. But no. Ms. Hole stick to her rut and insists that it's 1996. I guess there's nothing wrong with being stuck in the past, especially if you have no better option (and as long as you know the returns are going to exponentially diminish each time out). And there are a couple moments here that recall those days (Pacific Coast Highway and Samantha) for those that want that kind of thing. For the rest of us, this isn't any kind of necessary.