Flux Outside (Glassnote Records)
The Royal Bangs will get their biggest national exposure with the March 29 release of their third album, Flux Outside, and they've more than lived up to the challenge. The new disc is the trio's most diverse and dynamic; there's so much rhythmic inventiveness and instrumental detail that it sounds like the product of three or four times as many people. Much of Flux Outside is a hectic, caffeinated rush, from the burly, bubbling "Bull Elk" and hard riffing on "Loosely Truthing" to the concise pop smarts of "Grass Helmet." But the band shows off a more reflective side, too, with the sun-baked "Silver Steps" and the drawn-out soundscape "Dim Chamber." Altogether it's an impressive calling card. Solid songwriting, probably the best of the band's career so far, supports the jittery arrangements, and Ryan Schaefer has become a first-rate singer of a fractured kind of blue-eyed soul.