I’ve long assumed that Scranton band Tigers Jaw would be one of the acts to help boost the emo revival from the basements and lofts of the DIY scene into the big time. Their sturdy punk combines the shameless hooks of power pop with lyrics about existential woe and romantic entanglements, pitting washy, soothing keyboards and swooning male-female vocal harmonies against pent-up riffs that sometimes erupt into huge, blissful melodies. The 2009 slow burner “Spirit Desire,” which sounds like a Pinkerton B side with a reggaeton beat, has an especially powerful pull, evoking the nervous energy of love—it’s easily one of my favorite songs from the past five years. So when Tigers Jaw announced that three members quit back in March and the remaining two would be taking one last tour with some “talented friends” before putting the band on hiatus, I was more than a little bummed. Boston labels Topshelf and Run for Cover recently released a final track from the band, “Fake Death” (on a four-way split seven-inch with Code Orange Kids, Self Defense Family, and the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die), and it’s as bittersweet as the thought of what could’ve been. —Leor Galil Pianos Become the Teeth and Sainthood Reps open.
Your Turn (Northern Spy) is the second and best album by Ceramic Dog, the knotty rock trio led by guitarist Marc Ribot. The group’s 2008 debut, Party Intellectuals (Pi), felt a bit slick and chilly, but the new one—with raw, vibrant production by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier—is elbow deep in blood and grit, and Ribot sounds his most inspired and concise, even on extended solos. Supported by bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith, he skips among genres and tropes without sounding at all dilettantish: a sort of punk-blues hijack of 60s rock (“Lies My Body Told Me,” about struggling against the procreative impulse), furiously swinging instrumental surf rock (“Your Turn”), quaint rocksteady (“Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Us Around”), early jazz (“The Kid Is Back!”), and even a version of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” Ribot is at best a serviceable vocalist, and when he crosses over from his usual crankiness into outright bitterness—most egregriously on “Masters of the Internet,” an artless rant about musicians getting screwed by online piracy—it’s hard not to cringe, even though the sentiment is understandable. Luckily, though, he lets his guitar do most of the talking. He’s built a career by flouting expectations and yanking the rug out from under his own music, but in Ceramic Dog he often leaves well enough alone—and even when he does take things sideways, it’s easy to hang on for the ride. —Peter Margasak