Autopsy, California death metal thugs Autopsy have come back strong in the last couple of years. Their 2010 EP The Tomb Within was a five-song, 20-minute blast of punky grindcore with loose drumming, ridiculously catchy guitar riffs, and hoarse but comprehensible vocals. Macabre Eternal is more ambitious — 12 songs in 65 minutes, including the inexplicably drawn-out, 11-minute epic “Sadistic Gratification” — and more musically complex than the EP, but it’s still Autopsy; they haven’t become progressive death metal or anything. Song titles like “Always About to Die,” “Dirty Gore Whore,” and “Seeds of the Doomed” reveal their not-so-hidden intentions, which are to make listeners’ heads bang and, somewhat more surprisingly, to inspire wild fits of air guitar. There are riffs on this record that have a catchiness extreme metal hasn’t exhibited in decades, and the solos squeal with an untamable and infectious energy. Death metal used to be fun, and the members of Autopsy remember. The drum sound, as on the EP and on all previous Autopsy releases, is extremely primitive and boxy, sounding indebted to punk and even ’70s hard rock more than the precise clicking and clacking of much modern death metal. It, along with other factors, gives the music a human feeling that makes it all the more appealing — this album could have been recorded live in the studio. Fans of old-school death metal will find Macabre Eternal to be an exciting reminder of the genre’s earliest days.

Black Stone Cherry, Fiery Southern rockers Black Stone Cherry’s third album was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Howard Benson (Daughtry, Three Days Grace). Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea arrives May 31, 2011 on Roadrunner Records.

Dave Matthews Band, Following closely on the heels of 2010’s Live in New York City, this double-disc release features highlights from the band’s September 18, 2010 concert in Chicago. Selections include old DMB staples (“Jimi Thing,” “Tripping Billies”), tracks from the recent Big Whiskey & the GooGrux King (“Seven,” “Spaceman,” “Timebomb”), and a handful of rarities (“The Last Stop,” “Good Good Time”).

Death Cab For Cutie, Released after a three-year lull — the longest studio hiatus in Death Cab history — Codes and Keys follows 2008’s Narrow Stairs with a batch of pop songs that rely less on the guitar and more on atmospheric, melodic textures.

Eddie Vedder, There is no irony in the title of Eddie Vedder’s first full-fledged solo album: these are indeed songs performed on a ukulele, an instrument uncommon but not unknown to rockers. George Harrison was a well-known advocate of the small four-string instrument, and Vedder’s hero Pete Townshend once cut a lovely little gem called “Blue Red and Grey” on ukulele, a song that could easily slide onto this gently ramshackle collection of covers, re-recordings, and new tunes. To say that this is a minor album is to dismiss its intimacy and miss its appeal: Vedder’s self-imposed curse is that he takes everything very seriously indeed, so to hear him without the weight of the world on his shoulders is disarmingly inviting. He has nothing more in mind on Ukulele Songs than singing, whether it’s with duet partners Glen Hansard and Cat Power or just on his own, tossing out love songs, something he generally has avoided with Pearl Jam. Vedder never has been ashamed of his bleeding heart — it’s something that grounds Pearl Jam even when they’re in full-blast bombast mode — yet it’s refreshing to have a record where that heart is pushed toward the center, beating fully and proudly on his lightest, sweetest album yet.

Flogging Molly, 2011 album from celebrated Celtic punk ensemble Flogging Molly. Speed Of Darkness is their fifth, and arguably most important album. In the words of lead singer and songwriter Dave King, “It wasn’t the album we set out to write. It became the album we had to write”. Speed Of Darkness was written in Detroit, MI and takes a hardnosed look at the economic collapse in the US: the causes and the direct effect it has had on everyday people. The Motor City serves as the album’s muse and one of the biggest examples of what has gone wrong. While attacking much of the greed and ignorance responsible for where we are, the album also delivers a message of hope, humanity and the resilience of mankind. Speed of Darkness features Flogging Molly’s own blend of Rock, Folk, Punk, Blues and traditional Irish music with King’s populist poetry.

My Morning Jacket, Although recorded after a brief hiatus, during which Carl Broemel released a solo album and Jim James co-formed Monsters of Folk, Circuital feels like a close cousin to Evil Urges and Z, retaining both albums’ eclectic pop sound while presenting a more concise track list than its predecessors. The band worked on the album in Kentucky, turning a local church’s gymnasium into a makeshift studio and capturing the initial tracks live on 24-track tape.

The Melvins, release their latest live album, Sugar Daddy Live, on Ipecac Recordings. The 13-track album was recorded at the Busta-Guts Club in Downey, California and features songs that span the length of their career.

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