Aardvarck Bloom 3 12″ (Bloom)
If you’ve been following Yellow Green Red closely over the months, and not just reading about the records you’ve already heard of, you’d know that I have fallen hard for slow techno with massive bass. The best stuff is coming out of Europe and the UK, Aardvarck being Dutch and probably the most peculiar of all these dudes that I’ve heard. Stupid name, no packaging (not even a cardboard sleeve!), just a stamped center sticker and some of the sickest slow-motion bass that has ever distracted my neighbors from watching TV. It’s like this guy only ever listened to the Melvins but his local pawn shop had nothing but rusty samplers and drum machines for sale. No song titles, so I’ll just say that the a-side is the perfect introduction to his thick filth and he kicks off the b-side with what sounds like a Pro-Pain song chopped and screwed for no apparent reason. My compliments to the chef.

Aardvarck Bloom 4 12″ (Bloom)
That’s right, Bloom 4 is out now too! Mr. Varck doesn’t mess around. Same lack of packaging or information here, so let’s get to the music. The a-side kicks off with about 12 seconds of a soul sample before Aardvarck Kool-Aid-Mans the wall with an analog dirge that sounds more like Thrones than anything techno-related. Is that a bass guitar tuned to H? It slowly rises into outer space, and by the time it ends, I’m hearing Plastikman, not Joe Preston. The second cut on the a-side and the b-side kind of fall into a more standard heavy/slow dubstep pattern, albeit a satisfying one. I clearly need all of his Blooms, but I’m gonna have to go with Bloom 3 as my favorite of the two. It should come as no surprise that after looking up Aardvarck’s Discogs page, he looks cool as hell with his long hair, goatee and sunglasses.

Big Strick 7 Days 12″ (FXHE)
Apparently Big Strick is actually Omar S’s cousin – clearly there is a strong groove in that family’s DNA. Five tracks on this 12″, opening with a very Omar S-esque beat, paced with morse code hi-hat that screams FXHE. “Buckle Up!” is the first of two tracks to end in an exclamation point and it’s a nice piece of deep house, no frills, strictly smooth pleasure. The flip starts all fired up, with some intense samples about growing up black, the type of serious stuff that would make me uncomfortable in a public setting due to the exteme levels of realness. “Black Talk” is next and very fresh; its minimal vibe would fit nicely on the Cadenza label, except for the fact that I can picture all of these sounds being performed live in the FXHE studio, not on a computer. Part of me wonders if Big Strick isn’t really just Omar S punking people like myself with the pseudonym. The style is just so dead-on and precisely-executed; maybe Detroit really is just a magical place where every third dude knows how to move the crowd.

Julian Casablancas Phrazes For The Young LP (RCA)
I continue to love Is This It more and more as the years progress, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to listen to the bassist’s pun-named side project, you know? It was always kind of clear to me that the heart and soul of The Strokes was tucked inside Julian Casablancas’ lambskin leather, so naturally the idea of him stretching out on his own was kind of thrilling. And Phrazes For The Young is nothing if not kind of thrilling, as some of Casablancas’ finest moments are found here alongside his most boring. The first three cuts are all killers – “Out Of The Blue” is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, cartoony Strokes bliss with Casablancas doing his best Denis Leary impression rushed into a rousing chorus. “Left And Right In The Dark” starts off like Atom & His Package before swishing into a synth-pop masterpiece. If the right dude remixes this one, no club is safe. “11th Dimension” is the single and rightfully so, another synthy room-shaker with that adorable voice crooning away. The rest of the album tests out some new waters, with a couple of ballads more suited for Kid Rock’s countrified persona, a bland slice of Coldplay whimsy and some dance-pop that Pandora might recommend if you like Sean Paul. I’m glad Casablancas got a chance to stretch his legs, and really I could listen to him sing a Chinese take-out menu and enjoy it, but I find myself skipping around after the first three tracks, in part because all of these songs push five minutes and you notice it. If he trims the fat for the next Strokes album, whenever that happens, they might save rock n’ roll after all.

Cold Cave Death Comes Close 12″ (Matador / Heartworm)
I didn’t need to own “Love Comes Close” on vinyl for the third time, but I certainly needed the other three excellent new tracks on Death Comes Close. “Double Lives In Single Beds” shows Wes Eisold getting incredibly comfortable with his voice over a few beautifully pitch-bent notes. Sounds great, but this track just seems so suited to live performance that I need to get to one of their gigs again soon. “Theme From Tomorrowland” rides a BPM similar to “Love Comes Close” and the emotion in Wes’s voice is more audible than ever before, a wonderful pairing to the gorgeous, childlike voice of Caralee McElroy. “Now That I’m In The Future” wraps things up nicely, more of the polished synth-pop that Cold Cave has comfortably settled into. I dug their noisy, static-laced early material, but with both Love and Death coming close, I am incredibly satisfied and eager to see how far they can twist pop music to fit their own desires.

Dead At 24 Blast Off Motherfucker! LP (Ride The Snake)
My memories of the 90’s do not include obscure Pittsburgh band Dead At 24, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying this retrospective LP. Seems like most Pittsburgh bands not named Aus Rotten or Don Caballero have been ignored by the rest of the world, and while I can think of a few dozen reasons (bands) why that’s a shame, Dead At 24 are the freshest in my head right now. Culled from various tapes, and padded with a succinct booklet to fill in the details, Dead At 24 played some wonderfully ragged music, somewhere along the line where art-rock met emo. Basically, had these guys been from Maryland, this would’ve been prime Vermin Scum material. Reminds me of a more disjointed, sluggish Moss Icon, prone to awkward tangents of the highest caliber. The first track reminded me of Moonraker, not sure who else remembers that late-90’s No Idea weakling emo band, but I am certainly a fan. These guys and girl probably were too willing to eat ribs and tell rude jokes to truly fit in with that early 90’s emo crowd though, which is just how they wanted it, I’m sure. Some cuts even call to mind the Versatile Newts or some other Messthetics malfunction. I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did.

Floating Points J&W Beat / K&G Beat 12″ (Planet Mu)
I picked this one up by error, confusing the name Floating Points for Dorian Concept, hoping to hear more by the guy that wrote “Trilingual Dance Sexperience”. It’s hard to keep track sometimes, and while I am disappointed in my poor memory, this Floating Points record isn’t half bad. “J&W Beat” is dubstep built for the rainforest; I can already picture various endangered species dancing around to this one. Definitely a different vibe that might receive some crossover interest from the Enigma crowd (which is meant positively). “K&G Beat” has a slow-mo intro that makes me think Floating Points is showing off, like he’s all “look what I can do” before transitioning to a speedy beat that’s just this side of drum n’ bass. If Floating Points creates more music like “J&W Beat”, there’s a good chance I will end up remembering this guy’s name.

General Interest General Interest LP (Ride The Snake)
Huge Minutemen vibe on General Interest’s debut, which probably seals or breaks the deal, depending on your personal point of view. Not at all what I was expecting, I guess I was anticipating something a little more by-the-books hardcore punk, but their funky bass and unhurried rhythms were surprisingly refreshing. Songs like “What’s A Darfur?” and “Cops In Love” straddle that weird midpoint between artsy and dumb; normally I expect whip-smart lyrics with my Gang of Four or Minutemen riffs, but these guys like to string out a goofy one-liner into a full song. Personally though, the Minutemen never grabbed me, no matter how hard I tried, and the General Interest vocalist has too nerdy a voice to really hold my attention with his nonchalant sing-speak. I won’t be flipping this one over often, but I’d check these guys out if they played my town; I think that’s pretty fair.

Home Blitz Out Of Phase LP (Richie)
Daniel DiMaggio has made good on the promise of his Home Blitz singles with Out Of Phase, the most glorious rock 12″ from New Jersey since Chronic Sick’s Cutest Band In Hardcore. DiMaggio magnifies the two aspects of Home Blitz I always found most appealing here: the catchy, naive rock as uplifting as it is unsettling, and the wild, unmedicated freakouts that might have Jad Fair saying “maybe we should stop for a second?” “Nest Of Vipers” kicks things off with one of those freakouts, and it’s great; it turns into four other songs along the way, and before you know it, “Two Steps” is blasting out surefire, Big Star-powered hooks. Home Blitz is nothing if not full of those hooks, sometimes providing more than a song rightfully needs. It’s the best kind of overload, though. Throw in a Cocksparrer cover that could easily double as the official Home Blitz anthem and you’ve got a messy rock record that is as uninhibited as it is timeless.

Homostupids The Load LP (Load)
While creating the Factorymen record, some of the gas from the laboratory must’ve escaped into Homostupids Headquarters, as a similar strain of dementia is evident on The Load, coincidentally released by Load Records. While this is very much a rock record, and a scorching one at that, Homostupids pepper in some tape malfunctions, tin-can robot vocals, even some looped bird calls amongst their fiery garage rock. Just enough to keep you on your toes, really. As for the songs themselves, nothing has really jumped out as an identifiable hit like I enjoyed on The Intern, but I think it took like six months for that to happen to me anyway. A Homofanatic friend of mine is convinced this is their best work yet, and who am I to disagree? It’s hard to step up with a solid album after doing like five singles; Homostupids are like that overweight, sweaty wimp who somehow manages to hit home runs anyway.

Iron Lung / Walls / Pig Heart Transplant Public Humiliation LP (Iron Lung)
I have to wonder, do these guys pass out with embarrassment if someone spills a drink at dinner or sneezes during a movie? My definition of “public humiliation” greatly differs from that of these Pacific NW hardcore overlords, as theirs is apparently “an incredibly tight, well-recorded live set that rivals any of the finest hardcore grind born of this earth”. This might be the first time in history that a one-off collaboration between prominent groups overpowers its individual parts, and that’s no hyperbole. I was expecting improvisation, extended noise interludes, maybe even a Meatshits-styled grind blast, but no – this is perfectly-executed hardcore as ugly as it is fierce, with a brooding noise rumble and some great Dead Kennedys-styled reverb guitar to add a subtle diversity to their attack. They play some Iron Lung tunes, a Walls tune (if I’m not mistaken), a Big Black cover, some new ones, and just hammer it out like this is the last show of their existence, not as a band but as people. There’s some polite clapping at the end, which is the only real evidence that this is a live gig. I suppose the sound of jaws hitting the floor can be hard to hear.

Life Partners Men Are Talking LP (Ride The Snake)
Somehow, through becoming a more legitimate band in recent years, Life Partners have only gotten stranger. Men Are Talking eschews most of their noisy history for a righteous cock-rock album filled with epic build-ups, uncomfortable moments and jokes that aren’t jokes. They take the LP format and use it to really stretch out some gratuitous ballads, averaging six minutes (actually that’s the mode, not the mean), so that you get to examine every inch of vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Dave Dougan’s man-cave, so to speak. What other band would write a song called “Rapist Gets Off” that sounds like an 80s sit-com theme? There are numerous lines crossed on Men Are Talking, mostly involving good taste. I feel like I should list the rest of the band’s full names so that any women reading this know to avoid them on OkCupid, but I’m here to talk about music, not play God.

Lightning Bolt Earthly Delights 2xLP (Load)
What can be said about Lightning Bolt at this point? Either you stared into the Ride The Skies cover art like it was a Magic Eye and felt your pants moisten the first time you watched “The Power Of Salad And Milkshakes” or you didn’t. And here, on their fifth album, Lightning Bolt do very little to vary their attack, experiment outside their boundaries or move away from the things that made them great in the first place. Earthly Delights is as fast-moving, hectic and stunning as ever. I’ve heard it described as their “metal album”, and I guess that could be true, although only when weighing it against their other records, as the technology is not yet available to translate a Lightning Bolt song for Rock Band. There are some seriously spiky riffs here, nicely buffered with an alien nursery rhyme or a total meltdown (the third and final side easily ranks with their most intense work). Figuring I already had enough recorded Lightning Bolt material in my life was one of my week’s biggest gaffs. I wonder if Brian Chippendale went through more drum sticks or magic markers making this record.

Pop. 1280 Bedbugs / Times Square 7″ (self-released)
I will never tire of bands from New York singing about New York when its done right, Pop. 1280 being an exceptional modern example. Bed bugs are gross, and New York is crawling with them; Times Square can be an ugly neon place for tourists and locals alike. Rather than take my word for it, you should listen to Pop. 1280 on their first self-financed single. The vocalist probably sounds more like Nick Cave than Nick’s son Jethro does – his hooting bares such an uncanny resemblance, but it comes off not as a falsified impression but a natural bleating, the only possible sound the singer’s voice could make. The band clearly picked up on this, as they put together a very Birthday Party sound in their own right. Bass and drums are locked in a depressing stumble while the guitarist lights cigarettes with his carefully chosen phrasing. I can see people writing Pop. 1280 off as a copycat act, because the comparison is glaring, but they’re missing the point. This is great music, artfully rendered, with a distinctly New York menace. We could all do well to have Pop. 1280 in our lives.

Total Control Retiree / Meds II 7″ (Iron Lung)
Last year’s Total Control single was a highlight for me, with its jittery punk scattering like roaches when the lights turn on. Rather than continue to sound like a nervous Middle Class, this short single finds them venturing towards a more robotic territory. “Retiree” still has that speedy punch, reminding me of the first A Frames album if it were pitched higher, which is certainly a good thing. “Meds II” gets even more industrial, eschewing guitars for a pounding pulse, echoed vocals and a hive of small synths, the type of thing Rough Trade would’ve been clamoring to put out amongst their first dozen releases. I fear that, much like Total Control’s debut, this record won’t receive the proper attention it deserves; maybe us Americans are just sick of surrendering to Australian superiority. Don’t get angry with me, I like living here, I just can’t help it if this is my favorite synthy punk 7″ of 2009!

Untold James Blake and Pangaea Remixes 10″ (Hemlock)
Really been digging the Untold tracks I’ve heard, although tracking this stuff down on vinyl can be a slippery task. Someone tell me where I can find the Untold remix of Ramadanman’s “Revenue” on wax, please! On this Hemlock 10″, Untold is the recipient of the remix treatment himself and it works out nicely. James Blake’s take on “Stop What You’re Doing” is the star here, it has a West Coast gangster lean that was pretty unexpected and very cool. It’s like an instrumental hyphy track that Hyperdub would release; I can picture large posses standing around their van as this blasts from the trunk. Haven’t caught up with Pangaea since last year’s great Hessle Audio 12″ – his remix of “I Can’t Stop This Feeling” modernizes Chicago jacked drums, very similar to Zomby’s Where Were U In ’92? and again not what I was expecting but satisfying nonetheless. If you have to buy one techno remix 10″ this year…

Sven Weisemann Xine CD (Wandering)
I knew Sven Weisemann as a pretty sensitive guy from his previous work but Xine takes his melancholic vibe farther than I ever thought he’d go. Last I knew, he was remixing Ramadanman and producing his own subtle techno, so I was not prepared for the confessional music found here. These twenty tracks, acting as suites to one whole, feature titles like “Tearily” and “The Swan of Desire”, which explain things better than anyone else could. There’s a lot of sad piano on here, although there is certainly enough detail and texture to make this a satisfying headphones listen. This is definitely not dance music, this is a soundtrack to watching your true love’s plane take off for another country. Weisemann could make a killing if he decided to produce commercials for Effexor or Celexa. Listening to Xine, I am just waiting for a voice-over to tell me to ask my doctor if Zoloft is right for me.

Whatever Brains Saddle Up 7″ (Bull City)
Saddle Up is my first Whatever Brains experience and certainly won’t be my last. These three songs fly by, performed with a feverish enthusiasm that many other new bands would never consider. It’s not a polished record, but I can hear all sorts of guitars jamming the rest of the band, rather than being overloaded by the vocals or vice versa. I could fit Whatever Brains’ sound somewhere between the 5th and 6th chapters of The Intelligence’s discography, but they have such an excited, almost pop-punkish energy that becomes contagious even before “What Happened To All The Destructionaires?” is over. This was one of those rare instances where I wouldn’t have minded an additional CD-r with the single, and they happened to include one! Time to dust off the Discman.

Xeno and Oaklander Sentinelle LP (Wierd)
For whatever reason, there seems to be a big push for “authenticity” in the current cold-wave scene. Sure, no one wants to be caught posing, no matter if you’re a rapper or a punk rocker, but the current minimal synth scene has some pretty stringent standards. See what happens if your band asks to play a Wierd party using a computer program! I start to worry that the focus then turns to the Roland and Korg serial numbers rather than the music they are used to create. After a few listens though, Sentinelle is a pretty solid album that can be enjoyed without putting emphasis on how it was made, instead calling to mind Ceramic Hello attempting to sign a 4AD record deal. All these songs are pretty fast, and when the arpeggio on “Preuss” really takes off, it’s all that matters to me. The male vocalist has one of the most intriguing Maryland accents I’ve ever heard, but I guess that’s the fun of playing this sort of music. And in spite of the dedication to 1980s technology, Sentinelle sounds modern in its own strange way.

Skulls Without Borders compilation 10″ (Siltbreeze)
Here we go, The World’s Lousy With Siltbreeze, complete with a black on black skull that’ll have Prurient wondering if he released this comp. Starts off with The Chickens (spelled “Chickins” on here twice, I double-checked their MySpace and don’t get it) doing a pretty cool number. First time on vinyl for these members of FNU Ronnies and it was way more of a song than I expected, kind of like a Ronnies tune with less effects pedals and just a hint of optimism. Dan Melchior, lately a subject of intense boring controversy, slugs through a riff I wouldn’t mind hearing FNU Ronnies work with (not to make this all about them, but nary a day goes by that they aren’t in my thoughts). Pretty cool stuff from Melchior though, makes me think of Milky Wimpshake covering Flipper. Puffy Areolas I expected to sound like a noise side project but instead they come barreling out of the gates with a Stooges vibe and a screaming singer, utilizing a standard rock riff that is hard to screw up, which they certainly do not. Flip it over and Tommy Jay Band play “The Bugmen” with serious uncle humor vibes, presumably recorded at a chili cook-off. No offense to Sic Alps, but I have trouble remembering much of anything about their track, probably because I’m just getting antsy for Kurt and his Violators to hit the needle. When they finally do, it’s like I snuck into their practice space, hid behind a Coleman cooler and just started digging their eternal ramble that neither begins nor ends. Cool compilation, although between you and me, I would’ve really dug a Chickens / Puffy Areolas split.