Native American Punks
Blackfire are a punk-rock family — brothers Klee and Clayson Benally and their sister Jeneda, on guitar, drums and bass, respectively — with a direct line to another. CJ Ramone produced their 1994 EP, and Joey Ramone's final recordings were his guest vocals on 2002's One Nation Under. Blackfire are also Navajo Indians who connect their distortion-warrior originals to the traditional songs of their people on [Silence] Is a Weapon (Tacoho), produced by Ed Stasium (who did the same for the Ramones). One disc is pure Navajo, ceremonial vocal-and-drum music. The second disc is pure ire, CBGB-hardcore-matinee protest with jolts of ancient chorale. Of special note: "Alien," written by Indian folk singer Peter LaFarge (as "I'm an Indian") for his 1965 LP On the Warpath — a title that describes the way Blackfire raise their voices, like a painted-desert X, for anyone with a righteous fight on their hands.
Jam On: Pearl
The seven CDs in Pearl Jam's Live at the Gorge 05/06 (Monkeywrench) may be small rainfall next to the monsoon of official bootlegs and live downloads they have made available since 2000. But these three hometown dates are a racing mural of the band in peak forward-motion classicism: shuffling moods and set lists like the Grateful Dead; paying homage to Neil Young and the Who in fire and covers; igniting battle hymns from 2006's Pearl Jam like that CD was mere dress rehearsal. You can buy almost any Pearl Jam gig of this decade. This box makes you wish you'd been in the pit.
Goth, Death Metal, Violins
Eyvind Kang is a violinist I've heard on records by John Zorn and Mike Patton's band Mr. Bungle. But that did not prepare me for the austere majesty of Athlantis (Ipecac), Kang's vocal and brass settings for the sixteenth-century texts of Giordano Bruno, whose radical theories on God and the cosmos got him burned at the stake in 1600. The most hard-rock thing here is Patton's vocals. There are no electric guitars. But Kang's score and the choir's blackened beauty have the weight and menace of Norwegian death metal and British goth without the posing.