One of the cheekier female-empowerment badges around reads "Of course I don't look busy . . . I did it right the first time." The same thought comes to mind as you listen to the ridiculously good solo debut from ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur. A rocking affair that runs circles around the assembly-line riffs churned out by most longhairs, Auf Der Maur contains hypnotic stoner metal wrapped in gothic gauze and smoldering sexuality.
The Garbage-style "Real a Lie" hisses and soars like a vampire bat on the prowl, "Would If I Could" is a lost shoegazing classic, and the Perfect Circle-like "Followed the Waves" features Auf Der Maur wailing like a despondent banshee. Other songs -- the swirling, doomy firestorms "Lighting Is My Girl" and "Beast of Honor" in particular -- also bear the influence of her A-list rocker friends who contributed, including Hole amigo Eric Erlandson, Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, his ex-Kyuss bandmate Brandt Bjork, and onetime Smashing Pumpkin James Iha. Still, the album's message is clear: Forget what Hole frontwoman Courtney Love thinks -- Auf Der Maur is America's real sweetheart.