Another Six Minutes…

I’m thinking of doing away with these intro paragraphs, I never know what to say. Anyway, here’s another six reviews that should take you about six minutes to read…

The Antlers – Hospice (self-released; 3/3)


Slow-burning anthems of melancholic regret weaved in and around a loose narrative of nurse falling in love with patient; the story line goes like this- lead Antler Peter Silberman moves to the big city, spends two whole years sequestered from society writing this album, losing touch with family and friends along the way only to emerge with this stellar offering of dolorous melodies and heartrending storytelling. Think Radiohead-meets-Bon Iver with an Arcade Fire fascination and you can begin to draw a line connecting The Antlers’ influences to one another. If you like pop songs structured around ambient textures and falsetto-styled vocalizations with anthemic aspirations, Hospice may be your favorite album of the year. 9/10

Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications (Rough Trade US; 5/19)


So the guy from Pulp is releasing another solo album. I say this with disdain because it seems whenever Morrissey‘s prowess is being discussed there’s always some little Jarvis sycophant that sticks his nose (and unwanted opinions) into the conversation. Look, Morrissey‘s a snarky, sad recluse who is ill at ease among his fellow humans and was the frontman for the greatest band of the last 30 years, while Jarvis Cocker is a gregarious, model-dating ladies man that could steal your girlfriend off your arm with his wit and charm and you’d thank him for doing so and gladly pay his cab fare. And that’s kind of why I’ve always disliked the man; he’s everything Mozza isn’t and he’s introduced into those conversations too often, so this is me knocking him down a peg. Similarly revered by Brits, Cocker is a glammy, sometimes scuzzy rocker; and Further Complications is a rock album in the tradition of lecherous middle-age man seeking early-20s model; think Bryan Ferry (that’s a more accurate comparison and I usually interject that to deflect from anyone challenging Moz‘s superiority; likewise Cocker is at his best on this record when he’s veering into Roxy territory). It’s a look at the mind of a recent divorcee that’s trying to reconnect with hip young ladies (Angela), meeting a woman at a museum (Leftovers) and casting off pretension (I Never Said I Was Deep)- an exploration into a mid-life crisis that’s both endearing and pathetic. 6/10

Terry Urban – Southerngold (Gold Coin; 6/1)


Thank god for the mixtape culture that’s pushing both hip-hop and mash-ups to the next level. This mixtape by Terry Urban and Gold Coin Clothing almost didn’t happen- he sent the mixes to Santigold who was like “this is awesome, put this out” but her label, Downtown Records, was all “hell no!” Ironically, they’re the label that signed Danger Mouse after he gained fame from his Grey Album thing (Jay-Z‘s Black Album mashed into The BeatlesWhite Album). Basically, Southerngold is all the top southern rappers over the backing tracks of Santigold‘s debut album; and everyone’s here: Ying Yang Twins, Andre 3000 (OutKast), Bun B (UGK), Slim Thug, Mike Jones, T-Pain, Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, Trick Daddy and Young Jeezy. It ain’t gonna win any awards and isn’t groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure is fun. Download it for free here. 7/10

Pelican – Ephemeral [EP] (Southern Lord; 6/9)


I said “uh oh” when I saw that Pelican had made the leap from Hydra Head Records over to Southern Lord. From being on Isis‘ label and going to Sunn O)))‘s label; please, no collaborations! Okay, good- they left you alone, the hooded douches from Sunn O))) aren’t on this EP (thank Satan!) Anyway; Pelican does what Pelican does- which is blaze neatly meandering instrumental post-metal trails into the ether of the stratosphere, built on top of jet-like riffage, walloping basses and punchy drums. A cover of Earth‘s Geometry Of Murder (with the infamous Dylan Carlson) rounds out the three-song, 21-minute affair with brutal ardor. Pelican is set to release another full-length in late October titled What We All Come To Need and it has that dreaded Sunn O))) collaboration that I’m fearing. Oh well, there’s always this EP… 8/10

Future Of The Left – Travels With Myself And Another (4AD; 6/23)


I couldn’t stand Mclusky, so I was glad to seem them go the way of the dodo bird. So Future Of The Left, with two members of that Cardiff-based three piece have given us Travels With Myself And Another; it’ alternates between screamo shouting and cabaret call-and-response over Queens Of The Stone Age styled-wank. Great, it’s the British equivalent of “cock rock”. Except it’s all edgy and political. Oooh. I still do not like. Sharing a common thread with another band from that part of the world that I don’t “get” would be Northern Ireland’s Therapy?, FOTL is so ridiculously Anglocentric that I feel like I need to sit with a Brit slang dictionary with the Beeb on the telly so I can get their whole vibe down. But then the actual music underneath the Welsh-inflected is quite lousy, so I shant be giving this any further listens. 4/10

Discovery – LP (XL Recordings; 7/7)

discoveryThis wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to b… no- wait, there’s the auto-tuned vocals. Okay, well at least your indie cred can remain intact for a… no- let’s discard that as well. Wes Miles, frontman of Ra Ra Riot (not a fan, but apparently the rest of the music world has been eating the peanuts out of their poopy for about a minute) and Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) basically made you a synth-pop album, inviting Dirty ProjectorsAngel Deeradorian and fellow Vampire Ezra Koenig along for the glitz-fest. Oh joy. They add nothing spectacular. What I’m about to say is going to be awfully sexist (probably) so if you’re easily offended, stop reading now. Still here? Okay, this kind of music is only remotely okay to make if you have a female singer because if you’re a man and you’re making this soft-ass treacle pop shit you’re basically a gigantic pussy. 3/10

Another Ten Albums…

I keep telling myself that I’ll be all caught up to the reviews I want to get finished by the end of the summer; then I find a record I fall totally head over heels for and listen to it for weeks at a time, rendering all other “projects” moot and pushing it all back days/weeks/months. The records as of late that have been spinning non-stop over here are Mos Def‘s The Ecstatic and one you’ll see below, two more albums that get “prefect” scores, two more albums that’ll fight it out for “most played” on iTunes and be somewhere at the top of a year-end list. So here’s another ten reviews coming at ya…

Gallows – Grey Britain (Warner Bros; 5/2)gallows

I read an interview recently where both of the subjects were in agreement that most new punk was boring, except when its infused with with another genre; GallowsGrey Britain is interesting in that its brand of balls-to-the-wall melodic hardcore punk is informed by elements of keyboard-based prog- I’m thinking of last year’s The Chemistry Of Common Life by Fucked Up. It’s the Anglo-centric version of that record’s proggier workouts- six-and-seven minute blasts (The Vulture Acts I & II, Crucifucks) of punk energy that meander with pummelling drums and jagged riffs that are able to sustain themselves over synth-driven anthemic shout-alongs. Punk isn’t dead, it’s suffered at the hands of its own formulaic structure (usually a 10-song, 26-minute paint-by-numbers affair) for so long- UK’s Gallows push its evolution ahead in a more engaging direction. 8/10

Deerhunter – Rainwater Cassette Exchange (Kranky; 5/18)rainwater

I got a chance to hear three of these tracks at Noise Pop earlier this year; before I went deaf for two days. Yeah, Deerhunter‘s live show is akin to My Bloody Valentine‘s- you better bring some ear plugs because you’re gonna get some guitars. Anyway, the band treated those shows as pre-tour exercises (meaning: they gave 110% but also used the opportunity to “try out” new tracks Disappearing Ink, Famous Last Words and Rainwater). I remember them being louder for some reason… Anytime Deerhunter can throw out a quick 5-song EP in between albums/tours, even if it sucks, I’ll happily lap it up. This does not suck in the least; yeah, it’s too short- but it’s an EP so it whets the appetite ever so slightly, I’m excited for what they have next. A band that’s big on conceptual continuity; you could lay their releases end-to-end chronologically, hit play and listen to them as a series of ideas, where slight shifts in perception create little ripples in the psyche. Some of these ideas from their earlier stuff are still being felt now- that’s why their albums are musically dynamic yet still true to their vision. I can’t wait for what’s next. 9/10

Passion Pit – Manners (Frenchkiss; 5/18)manners

Electro-pop must die. I say this because of 1) this record and 2) records like this. C’mon, people- this music has had its day, can we just leave it alone? What have we learned from the countless imitators of Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell and The Human League? Absolutely nothing. We know that Ladytron is still making music, but they should’ve maybe stopped after Witching Hour. A similar sentiment is extended towards Le Tigre. So now we have in our hands this record from Passion Pit– it’s bloody awful. Now don’t get me entirely anti- towards the whole scene (I quite like Hot Chip and MGMT) but for fuck’s sake, do we really need this? It’s basically emo-ass lyrics over Postal Service-on-cocaine music, which… now that I think of it, this record is probably a direct result of that album’s influence on an entire generation of kids who severely need their asses kicked. 2/10

Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord; 5/26)sunno

Does anyone else not get this shit? Guitar drone gives way to stretching rope, buzzing bees and a ram’s horn, all the while some Hungarian dude is doing his best Vigo The Carpathian impression, talking some shit about middle Earth and underground civilizations, and that’s just the first track, Aghartha– a 17-minute snooze fest that’s actually laughable at times. It doesn’t even begin to get remotely interesting until about five minutes into the next track; Big Church (Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért), and yeah, that’s the whole name- apparently the longest word in the Hungarian language. I tried to translate it with “Google Translate” and got this: “because they once again seem to have behaved as if with a rendelkeznétek properties that you may not be deprived of the holy mivoltotoktól”. At least there’s a choir and some strings to save this song from its own developmentally challenged riffs. Dude, drone doom metal is gay. The whole “wearing black robes behind dry ice smoke while playing so distorted and slow” isn’t art, it’s playing right into a stereotype of tired cliches- the occult, darkness, suffering, grief, death, etc. I guess I’m too stuck in my “myopic conservatism” to understand Sunn O)))‘s vision- oh well… On a bright note, there are a few moments on this album that are actually sublime; the 16-minute closer Alice employs some horns and strings, but sitting through 35 minutes to get to this track is criminal. 4/10

The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Nonesuch; 6/9)charliedarwin

When this band is playing the whole ’round-the-campfire vibe, it works to amazing results. When they veer even slightly from this, the result is not so good. Since most of this record is a hushed affair, it scores big points for its melodramatic, whispered vocals and bare-bones folky instrumentation – think Bon Iver or Iron & Wine‘s older stuff. When they play the faux-Tom Waits uptempo vaudeville act (The Horizon Is A Beltway & Home I’ll Never Be– the latter is actually a Waits‘ cover of a Jack Kerouac poem) the effect is somewhat confounding- I’d offer this: go with what you know. Kudos to the other ten songs on here- odes to Ohio, Charles Darwin, ghosts, caged songbirds; a pretty slice of Americana delivered to these ears via pump organs, harmonicas, acoustic guitars, upright basses, banjos and mandolins. This album was originally released September, 2008- it’s been remastered and given a national release by Warner imprint Nonesuch Records. 7/10

Major Lazer – Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do (Downtown; 6/16)majorlazer

This falls somewhere between dancehall and dubstep; a more apt approximation may well be what you’d hear while adrift in the metaphorical Bermuda Triangle outlined by Jamaican roots music to the south, deep and wobbly London basslines to the east and New York club bangers to the west- that’s a lot of ground to cover, but Philly-based Diplo and UK’s Switch are known for their worldly slant and danceclub savoir faire (Diplo brought Brazillian favela funk to the states, clearing the way for M.I.A.‘s eventual world domination and Switch has produced tracks for her records as well as Santigold and Tricky). The guest toasters on this record reads like a “who’s who” in the current Kingston riddim scene: Vybz Cartel, Ward 21, Busy Signal, Mr. Vegas, T.O.K. and Turbulence, and it all went down at the world famous Tuff Gong Studios. If you’re a fan of reggae but have grown tired of its parity, give this record a try- it bridges the gap from rocksteady and roots to computer riddims and dancehall to dubstep and beyond; it’s as much an introductory lesson as well as an homage to the last 40 years of Jamaican-influenced music. 7/10

White Denim – Fits (Full Time Hobby; 6/22)white-denim

Probably my favorite album of the last three weeks; imagine a world where time machines exist- let’s put Grand Funk Railroad in a jam session with Pavement and see what happens. White Denim‘s Fits, perhaps? GFR was a riff-heavy power trio and the Pave was the lo-fi, thinking man’s take on said “dude” rock. So to mash them two together would be the closest approximation to what White Denim appears to be going for; and to great success. Crammed full of riffs (the first five tracks); the musical ideas stretch into some dub explorations (Sex Prayer), down home-style country boogies (Paint Yourself), a funky Boz Scagg-meets-Jeff Buckley falsetto number (I’d Have It Just The Way We Were), acoustic-tinged dream pop (Regina Holding Hands and Syncn)- just when I thought “indie rock” was getting boring, here comes something that’s forward-thinking by looking back. When this Austin trio blows through town I’ll be sure to check them out. 10/10

Oneida – Rated O (Jagjaguwar; 7/7)rated_o

This is a massive, sprawling triple album from Brooklyn’s Oneida, as well as my introduction to their churning and bombastic take on experimental rock music. Repetitive and mechanical like krautrock, yet organic and free-form like jazz, it’s a study in getting the most sound out of one or two chord vamps- relying heavily on effects processors, analog synths and percussion. It can test your patience but ultimately it’s a rewarding listen, not for the faint of heart. I like challenging music, so for me it’s not an issue of getting into this record, it’s an issue of what I’m getting out of it, or rather what I’m taking away with the experience of Rated O. By cutting the record into its three parts I can describe each section as (disc 1; comprising of tracks 1-5) scary, dark and droning electronic songs, more on the exploratory bent; (disc 2; tracks 6-12) these next seven songs are exactly that; songs, ranging between three-and-a-half minutes to just under seven. Primarily these are the “rock” songs, with discernible structures, more or less built around the guitar and (disc 3; tracks 13, 14 and 15) are the thirteen-minute psychedelic-tinged sitar jam, simply titled O; a short instrumental piece End Of Time that acts as a passage to the ender, a near 21-minute workout called Folk Wisdom that encapsulates the entirety of Oneida‘s expansive sound; a post-avant garde world that winks one eye at the Velvet‘s Sister Ray while the other is fixed upon Can‘s style of free improv. A genre-defying release like this with its moments of dancehall (Brownout In Lagos), Neu!-style motorik elements (10:30 At The Oasis), straight-ahead rocking (It Was A Wall) and sitar raga (O), and what you have is the year’s most riveting records, both diverse and engrossing. 8/10

The Alchemist – Chemical Warfare (ALC/E1 Music; 7/7)chemical_warfare

First thing I gotta say is that the seventh track on this record, That’ll Work (with Juvenile & Three 6 Mafia) is fucking dope as shit; likewise the previous tracks: Therapy (with Talib Kweli, Blu, Evidence & Kid Cudi), Grand Concourse Benches (with KRS-One), the title track (with Eminem), Lose Your Life (with Pusha T, Jadakiss & Snoop Dogg) and ALC Theme (with Kool G Rap) are all tight- exercises in excellent beats/production by The Alchemist himself and expert verses all spit with precision and flow. Then comes track 8, Smile, an R&B jam that goes sour- playing Twista‘s superfast flow against Maxwell‘s smooth croon. I hate this shit; why can’t a hip-hop album just be hip-hop anymore? If I want R&B, I’ll put on some Otis Redding or Curtis Mayfield; the new jack shit is wack. Then the album does a complete 180, backsliding into oblivion- awful raps by Mobb Deep‘s Prodigy, Lil’ Fame, Fabolous and Tha Dogg Pound ruin what was a pretty tight outing. A seven-song EP would’ve got this record a ten, instead it only scores half that. 5/10

Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine (Secretly Canadian; 7/21)josephine

I’ve been trying to throw together my “Best Of The 2000s” list and Jason Molina‘s 2003 offering Magnolia Electric Co. (Molina‘s last album under the Songs:Ohia moniker, and arguably his finest record to date; always capturing his mood perfectly on each record) figures somewhere in there. Then there’s his awesome 1999 record Axxess & Ace (bright and lively) that would figure high in my “Best Of The 1990s” list, and I could also mention honorably 2000’s The Lioness (ragged and melancholic like Neil Young‘s Ditch Trilogy albums), then there’s the “working man’s folk” of Didn’t It Rain, I can go on and on with this- so when Molina puts something out I’m usually near the front of the line. So here’s Josephine now. I can say that it’s a good album, not great- nothing all that spectacular sticks out, even upon repeated listens. I feel like I was listening to this record with too much intent (if that’s possible, being a “reviewer” and all), trying to find the truly awesome passages- but alas; it’s more like truly awkward passages. Take for instance the most out-of-place saxophone on the album’s opening track (O! Grace) that’s used for no other purpose than to say, “Hey, we got a sax solo on here!” The horns inexplicably reappear on the sixth track (Song For Willie) that sound ridiculously corny. I understand Molina‘s loss (bass player Evan Farrell died in an apartment fire during the early stages of recording) but to make an album that’s basically two long goodbyes (one to “Josephine” and one to Farrell) doesn’t really play on any of Molina‘s strengths- he’s at his best when his music is unpredictable (here it’s overwhelmingly rote) and his lyrics have a hint of angry passion to them (again; here he’s just self-pitying, which leaves me to wonder- did Molina die or did his friend?) 6/10

Ten Albums…

A.C. Newman – Get Guilty (Matador; 1/20)get-guilty

I’ve been slow to warm up to The New Pornographers; which is weird considering I really like both Neko Case and Destroyer‘s solo work. Most of my nit-picking with the Canadian supergroup is irrational; I’m just not huge on their brand of power pop. So I blame Carl (A.C.) Newman for that. I’d call his solo efforts New Pornos-Lite, as if you could water-down their treacle even more; he renders it down to a sub-aspartame quality of sweetness. Which is nice if you wanna impress your date by popping this CD in the car’s stereo before bringing her to a coffee shop after a Renee Zellweger movie, but if you’re that type of person I seriously doubt you’re reading independent music websites to inform your tastes. Anyway, if you like catchy indie pop like Rilo Kiley and Death Cab, you’ll like this. Grade: 5/10

Matt & Kim – Grand (Fader Label; 1/20)matt-kim

Touted as the younger, hipper version of Mates Of State; I’d say that’s only accurate in that the similarities they share are: yes, they’re a couple and yes; they play layered, synthy electro-pop. The comparison ends there – Matt & Kim are fun; while Mates Of State are a duo that sounds as if they’re stuck in a never-ending couples therapy session and every little marital slight and inadequacy is written down and set to music. Back to Matt & Kim; too much Matt, not enough Kim– when she finally does appear (not until track 6, Lessons Learned) her vocals are (big surprise!) pushed way down in the mix in deference to Matt‘s annoying vocal affectations that are akin to that awful singer from All-American Rejects. I said it was fun, but fun doesn’t necessarily equate to good. I guess this is how their relationship works; it’s basically a Matt solo project and he’s letting his girlfriend sing some la’s. Oh, she plays drums, too, but it seems as if most of the tracks have a drum machine. It was probably his idea she get hit by that bus… Grade: 3/10

Brother Ali – The Truth Is Here EP (Rhymesayers Entertainment; 3/10)brother-ali

Brother Ali got some flow. He’s got the rhymes, he’s got tight beats, he’s got enough balls to put out a nine-song, 34-minute record and call it an EP. He’s got the respect of the underground hip-hop community as well as the attention of rap magazine/bible The Source and got a little blurb in Rolling Stone‘s New Artist To Watch column. With three full-lengths and two EPs under his belt, Ali (real name: Jason Newman) seems poised to step up to the level of Aesop Rock, Atmosphere, Kool Keith, Sage Francis, the anticon. collective, El-P, MF Doom, Del, Murs– all the “underground” stars. His raps are confessionals; he’s adept at telling you exactly where he’s at in plain English but ain’t afraid to mix it up with superb metaphors and inoffensive tact. Ant of Atmosphere did the music (this collaboration is infinitely more interesting than his last record with Slug) and there’s so many great hooks and phenomenal samples. I’m also using this review as a soapbox to pledge to my readers that it’s a start in covering more hip-hop. Grade: 9/10

Asobi Seksu – Hush (Polyvinyl; 2/17)hush

Dream pop without the fuzzy guitars just doesn’t seem all that appealing- apparently their last album Citrus, from way back in ’06 was closer to shoegaze and got kick-ass reviews. Maybe I’ll listen to it someday. For now I’m stuck with Hush; its gentle melodies, soft atmosphere and breathy vocals- the album’s title implies exactly that, save for the track Me & Mary (there’s some fuzzy guitar). Asobi Seksu is Japanese for “casual sex”, so if you’re looking for something that you can spend one night with and never have to see again, you found it in recorded music. Let’s just hope this album doesn’t get all stalker-esque on you and start trying to message you on Facebook- we said “no strings attached” and didn’t exchange phone numbers. Please, just go… Grade: 4/10

Vetiver – Tight Knit (SubPop; 2/17)tight_knit

Remember when SubPop was known for exploiting that Seattle Sound about twenty years ago, all the way to the bank? Seems these days they’re hitting us with waves of easy-listening folk-rock from Band Of Horses, Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, Tiny Vipers and the newly acquired Vetiver; banking heavily on their blend of bland acoustic/slightly amplified naturalismo/nuevo-hippie pap. It’s about half-interesting, half-boring in that I can listen to it as a critic and vaguely understand what it is they’re trying to do- they do that well; as a fan of music in general I can listen with reserved incredulousness that there’s yet another band blindly thrown into the mix playing this same ol’ shit again and again. With regards to Vetiver‘s talent- they’re a fine band, serviceable even. With regards to their overall sound (what I’m basing this review on) is that Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, I fell asleep. In short; whatever. Grade: 5/10

Royksopp – Junior (Astralwerks; 3/23)royksopp-junior

If I had a time machine I know what I’d do with it. Not go back and stop Hitler, or AIDS, or ask a different girl to the prom circa 1993- I’d go back and kill those fucking robots that call themselves Kraftwerk so that electronic music would’ve never happened. Now wait a minute- that means no Brian Eno, New Order, Depeche Mode, etc. but I’m willing to take that risk so that bands artists performers computer geeks like Royksopp and that god-damned Daft Punk would never exist as well. For every electronic musician that kicks ass, there are five that should’ve never happened at all. In this regard, I could go back even further and kill Karlheinz Stockhausen, considered by nerds everywhere to be the father of electronic music, but no one listens to him anyway (you can’t snort coke and dance to his music). Plus, Brian Eno could’ve then been a famous painter, New Order could’ve found an Ian Curtis-sound alike and stayed Joy Division and Depeche Mode… you know something- someone else could’ve made Violator in 1990 (INXS, possibly?) and no one would’ve missed out on anything. That album is the shit. Royksopp‘s Junior is just shit. Even the album cover makes me angry. Also, I haven’t figured out how to put the little dots over the o, because it would just be a waste of time and search engines don’t care about umlauts anyway. Grade: 1/10

Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels (Nettwerk; 3/31)lost_channels

I was trying to figure out why I liked this record so damn much; it’s by a Canadian band that plays a nice blend of folk and Americana- then it hit me. Canadian bands do Americana better than American bands nowadays- I think that’s because whatever the American Dream once meant means more to Canadians than it does to Americans. Things like civil liberties, freedom of press and universal health care are all American pipe dreams; in Canada they are reality. Politicizing aside; Great Lake Swimmers make great, laid-back folky tunes in that whole echo-chamber aesthetic completed by mandolins, banjos and wistful church organs reminiscent of early-70s MOR light rock. Grade: 8/10

Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade (Southern Lord; 3/31)black-cascade

So as I’m record shopping last week over at the Berkeley Amoeba and I’m in the little metal section checking out the newly released vinyl Mastodon LP; I overhear two metal-heads- and one says to the other his favorite album this year is Wolves In The Throne Room‘s Black Cascade. Oooh, I think- what’s that? I hear the one say “it’s black metal” and the other was like, “No, man- it’s black ambient metal…” Duh, dude. I have no idea what the fuck that means, but as an audiophile it got me interested. I mean, “metal” is a relative term- like “heavy” and “black” (no, wait; black is absolute). Anyway, here goes a review: I have never listened to black ambient metal, my initial impression is that it’s sort of like superfast heavy metal played over synthesizers (like the ones you’d hear on side two of David Bowie‘s Low) that add “atmosphere” to the mix. So since I have no reference point to weigh this record against anything in its genre or compare it to (except speed metal on top of Brian Eno‘s keyboard washes) I’m going to say it’s a “demanding” listen, for the simple fact that it’s almost fifty minutes of skull-crushing drumming and endlessly droning power chords. I’m hearing elements of prog, hardcore punk and obviously thrash metal played with serious speed and technical prowess. There are some nice “soft” passages as well- the middle section of Crystal Ammunition is actually quite “pretty”, but the shortest song is ten-and-a-half minutes for Satan’s sake. It’s not for the faint of heart, and with song titles like Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog and Ex Cathedra, I’d say dudes who write endless hours of programming code in their parent’s basements (only stopping to play World Of Warcraft and chug Red Bull while never getting laid underneath their Lord Of The Rings posters) love this shit. Because those are the two dudes that I was eavesdropping on… Grade: 6.66/10

Crocodiles – Summer Of Hate (Fat Possum; 4/28)crocs

Can anybody tell me why I love this insanely fuzzed-out guitar pop? By all intents and purposes I should hate it- I grew up with an undying allegiance to and an appreciation for over-produced clean sounds, which carried into my 20s. Maybe it’s a subconscious rebellion slowly taking over in my mind. Anyway; I’m digging Crocodiles’ Summer Of Hate– it’s all the things I’ve been loving lately about music (see: No Age, Wavves, any reverb-heavy fuzz-pedal shit in general) that apes the whole Jesus & Mary Chain aesthetic. I could never fully get high on J&MC until re-visiting it through the ears of the aforesaid bands, but I blame Johnny Marr and Robert Smith for that; or any of the other bands I was into circa 1986. Grade: 8/10

Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love (Jagjaguwar; 5/5)pinkmtntops

I’ll get this out of the way first: best album cover yet this year. I’m loving the faux-Danielle Steele book cover set against a rumpled blue velvet background. It’s a harbinger of what’s to come from Stephen McBean‘s side project; he of Vancouver psych-rock outfit Black Mountain. It’s all dirgy and full of ballads of unrequited longing yadda yadda yadda… Basically the opposite of Black Mountains‘ in-yer-face wall of guitar sludge. I’m trying to feel this album because I’m a sensitive guy, I appreciate the heart-felt emotional output, but for some reason it just sounds hokey- sappy strings, corny crooning, things I abhor unless it’s coming from Morrissey or Bryan Ferry. Grade: 6/10