Grass Widow Past Time

In a lo-fi landscape dominated by hazy fuzz rock, Grass Widow's Past Time is the most naked, straightforward-sounding album you'll hear all year. This all-female foursome use distortion sparingly, and there are only faint traces of reverb in these ten tracks. Without effects or gauzy atmospherics, the focus falls on the songs, which are packed with three-part harmonies, angular guitar lines and atonal melodies. Writing a rock album with such a clean sound was a bold move, but Grass Widow would have benefited from breaking out the effects pedals a little more often. The uncharacteristically overdriven intro to "Fried Egg" comes as a welcome surprise, while the looped organ that begins "Submarine" has a texture lacking on the rest of the LP. (Kill Rock Stars)