Lars Gotrich

You could never fully steal the show when you're followed by the blown-out spectacle of Sun Ra Arkestra's Tiny Desk Concert. But the opening act kept jumping on the piano and nibbling on the set, literally pulling up the carpet and leaving "presents" on the floor. How could we not have them back? Did I mention they're hamsters?

We woke up to a world with a new D'Angelo album, his first in almost 15 years. For lovers of R&B and soul — hell, for lovers of music that transcends — this is unreal.

How's this for an opening line? "Gross. They say I ate you in the womb, that Mom had no room." After eight years of other projects, members joining Repulsion on tour, and vocalist/guitarist Marissa Martinez-Hoadley's sex-reassignment process, Cretin has crawled back out of its delightfully gore-obsessed grindcore hole for Stranger and the pit-baiting song "Ghost Of Teeth And Hair."

In the noise-improv trio Borbetomagus, Jim Sauter hooks bells with Don Dietrich to obliterate any notion you have of the saxophone (sorry, birthday boy Adolphe Sax). In Oneida and Man Forever, Kid Millions is a psychedelic shaman of the drums. In "Game Jump," Sauter issues a brief warning that sounds something like a zombie-infested cruise ship bellowing its final notes before it plummets into a blood-freezing ocean. Then it's on.

"Born To Ruin" contains one more letter than Bruce Springsteen's ode to the "runaway American dream." Whether or not the pun is intentional, Damian Master has been steadily ratcheting up the drama in his own riffs, hooks and production over three years of cassette releases under various guises (This Station Of Life, Aksumite, All Wave, the list goes on). But his solo project, A Pregnant Light, continues to be unbound by the metal elsewhere in his catalog.

When listening to Crying's "War Of Attrition," you might think: Which solo came first, the Game Boy or the guitar? With Ryan Galloway's outrageous, Thin Lizzy-esque power-pop hooks going note-for-note with his own series of ecstatic 8-bit blips — not to mention Nick Corbo's muscular drumming — the New York trio has already leaped past the charming chiptune pop-punk of last year's excellent Get Olde, collected now on a double EP with six new tracks.

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