Ad Astra Per Aspera, Cubic Zirconia (Big Brown Shark). Intricate art-rock disrupts the space-time continuum by cramming more layered textures, brooding atmospherics and squawking freakouts into 21 minutes than anyone thought possible. Stephen Hawking is pissed.
The Casket Lottery, Smoke & Mirrors (Second Nature). All the frayed nerves, wrenching lyrics and conflicted emotions you might expect of a faltering local favorite playing its own funeral dirge.
The Esoteric, 1336 (Black Noise). Four scalding shriekfests that disintegrate your eardrums into finely ground powder and leave you simultaneously pleading against -- and panting for -- a fifth song.
The Golden Republic, People (Astralwerks). The Republic enters the beginning of its golden age by bringing more power to the people in a bite-sized precursor to its official Astralwerks coronation.
SoundsGood, Money/Pacin (Innatesounds). Miles Bonny and Joe Good play good cop, better cop as they police hip-hop with a head-bobbing, tag-teaming taste of the upcoming Biscuits and Gravy.