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Elle's soothing style a 'Surrender' high point

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

‘Perpetual Surrender'

DIANA (Jagjaguwar)

★★★½

Canada, where they make music so good the government even helps subsidize creative efforts, has struck again with DIANA, a great new band out of Toronto that might help make your Saturday evenings even more chilled out with their eight-song debut.

You'll get tastes of ‘80s pop, some disco, and even some dark shoegaze on this really enjoyable record made even more so by the alluring vocal stylings of Carmen Elle, whose cool voice can soothe whatever ails you. High points are “Foreign Installation,” that feels like St. Vincent's lighter moments; jazzy “Perpetual Surrender”; and moody, tragic “New House,” where Elle wonders, “Am I wasting my love on you?”

‘The Wild Hunt'

Watain (Century Media)

★★★½

Hey, black metal purists, it's hand-wringing time! What do you do when the darkest, most unholy force in metal signs with a large indie label, writes a song with clean vocals, and streamlines their punishing sound in order to bring their chaos to the masses. You panic!

“The Wild Hunt,” the fifth record from the Swedish black metal heathens, has fans in an unjustified fury with their latest opus, a pretty darn good record once you clear away all the moaning that this record it isn't “Casus Luciferi.” It isn't but there is plenty of old flames here (“De Profundis,” “Sleepless Evil”) to counter their “unforgivable” sin of making “They Rode On,” a 10-minute track with actual singing that makes “Nothing Else Matters” sound like a children's hymn.

‘Versions'

Zola Jesus (Sacred Bones)

★★★½

Zola Jesus has been one of the more fascinating, exciting artists of the last few years, slowly building her reputation and stage chops over the course of three very good studio records. Her new collection “Versions” is her most interesting to date, working with composer JG Thirwell to rework some of her old songs.

The project produces results from the get go, with a slowed, atmospheric version of “Avalanche” from “Conatus” that truly benefits from the heavy string arrangements.New takes on “Run Me Out” (the percussion really pops), “Night” (the strings really layer the drama), and “Collapse,” that is even stronger with the sweeping orchestration, make this project totally worthwhile.

‘So You All Are ... So You Will Be'

White Hills (Thrill Jockey)

★★★½

It didn't take very long with the new record from White Hills to wonder if I was on drugs in space. Considering I never dabble in such substances nor ever have left the Earth, I was confused, but that's what you get journeying with this band.

The NYC-based stoner rock weirdos that comprise this awesome band will leave you confounded and guessing, that is when they aren't walloping you with psyche-washed metallic riffs and gargantuan sludge on tracks such as “In Your Room”; the fuzzed-out jamming on the title cut; and the deranged, blistering sizzling on “Rare Upon the Earth.”

Brian Krasman is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

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