MARAH: Angels Of Destruction! [Yep Roc]

Angels and devils, detox and drink, stray dogs and distant loves, New York and Spain: Angels Of Destruction! presents enough recurring and unifying details to qualify as a song cycle or thematic opus. But those touches are for lyrics-obsessives. Mostly, Angels just rocks. These guys (and one new gal, keyboardist/vocalist Christine Smith) know their Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, but they also know their Faces, Replacements and AC/DC. As with 2005’s excellent If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry, Angels gravitates toward amped-up roots rock. But unlike the previous album’s homespun folky punk, this one dials up the electric guitars for a rowdier, heartier edge: “Coughing Up Blood” and “Wild West Love Song” are breathless and exciting, hurtling forward with caffeinated intensity and an army of guitars, horns and piano. “Santos De Madera” is all Tex-Mex swing, and “Wilderness” is a buzzy, barroom gospel rocker that ends in a bagpipe drone. Dave and Serge Bielanko have led Marah through lots of changes since their alt-country garage band debuted in 1998. Once defined by the Philadelphia streets, they’ve abandoned band members, hometowns and Oasis-sized aspirations (2000’s anomalous Float Away With The Friday Night Gods). Angels, however, sounds definitive: swaggering (through and out of the barroom), celebrating (in spite of adversity), rocking (and rolling). []

—Steve Klinge