Recorded at the L.A. home studio of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, Mr. Gnome's third album sounds as great as you might expect. Singer-guitarist Nicole Barille shifts effortlessly from soft and seductive to dark and haunting, then on to straight-up feisty. Meanwhile, Sam Meister's trippy, hypnotic beats and rhythms provide the perfect groove; he even gets to show off his piano skills on the eerie, Portishead-like "Watch the City Sail Away." And don't worry: The California setting hasn't affected Mr. Gnome's gloomy mood one bit: They expose their hometown roots on "Winter," which hangs in the air as heavy as a Cleveland December. — Eddie Fleisher
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