Anxiety Pathetic EP 12″ (Social Napalm)
Killer EP from yet another group of knuckleheads outta Massachusetts. Has anyone checked the synthetic hormone level in Boston’s milk supply lately? Anxiety has a raw hardcore sound that intersects a few crucial points, namely mid-’90s Cleveland (think H100s, Inmates) and early ’80s Mutha Records (The Worst and Mental Abuse come to mind). Ragged, nasty and raw hardcore with sentiments like “I hate the fuckin’ human race” and “stop breeding / you are the problem, I am the cure” at every lyrical turn, the type of universal hatred that any half-decent punk can get behind. Anxiety also bring the occasional mosh part to the table, perhaps unavoidable due to their proximity to Boston, and it works well. A couple of stupidly great, punched-in guitar solos, courtesy of Mind Eraser’s Chris Corry, only sweeten the deal. Factor in the great goofball cut-and-paste artwork and you’ve got what very well might be my favorite hardcore record of the year.

Bastard Noise A Culture of Monsters LP (Deep Six)
Quickly following their fantastic split with The Endless Blockade, Bastard Noise are back once more in bass/drums mode with A Culture of Monsters, proudly serving the skull. It’s heavy as hell, churning more than pummeling, and a bit more grandiose than previous Man Is The Bastard records – not quite as raw as say, the Capitalist Casualties split (certainly one of the greatest hardcore splits of my generation). Still, the first couple minutes of “Me and Hitler” are as possessed and gnarly as anything else Eric Wood has created, and there is no mistaking A Culture of Monsters for anything other than a brutal onslaught. Besides the hardcore-prog we’ve come to love, Bastard Noise throw a few curveballs on here: the spoken word intro is an excellent way to get into the proper headspace for the duration of A Culture of Monsters, but what is one to make of the weird Jarboe-esque crooning in “A Silent Night in the Horrible Garden”? Or the even more peculiar ballad that follows, “If Another World…”, which sounds like Antony & The Johnsons covering Kate Bush? Yes, this is still the Bastard Noise review. It sounds nuts, and it is, but Bastard Noise pull it off. They wrap things up with the nice n’ lengthy “Interior War”, which ends with a fired-up, gridlocked Eric Wood (pretty sure that’s his voice) ranting about how he wants to just jam and destroy all “stupefucks”. When the war against the stupefucks takes place, I’ll be right by his side.

Benga Phaze: One 2×12″ (Tempa)
There will always be a spot reserved in my heart for Benga’s “Night”, due to its possession of one of the squirmiest, queasiest basslines I’ve ever heard, inclusive of all genres. After my enjoyment of the recent Skream single, and with my hope that the Tempa crew is still blowing minds like they were a couple years back, I was unfortunately disappointed by Phaze: One. Across these four sides, Benga never really ventures outside of his safe space: the rhythms are slow and creeping, the bass is wobbly and vibrant, and the whole thing is performed effortlessly and unenthusiastically, to the point where predictability reigns over creativity. This is essentially the same sound I heard on Benga’s Diary of an Afro Warrior, which I really dig, yet I was hoping for something fresh with this new release, not a rerun. I’m not saying I want Benga to just follow the pack and sound like Ramadanman and Joy Orbison, it’s just that I’m not sensing a lot of inspiration here; it’s as if Benga is content to just do what he does and challenge neither himself nor the listener. I dig the titles, like “Rock Music” and “Your Band (Descending)”, but the music doesn’t quite live up to how I hoped they’d sound. I’m assuming the enumerated title confirms that a second “phaze” is forthcoming – hopefully Benga is just getting fired up for that one.

Blawan Fram / Iddy 12″ (Hessle Audio)
A new Hessle Audio 12″ with nonsense song titles from some unusual new name that is probably just another alias of some young dubstep producer who already has multiple other aliases? Don’t mind if I do! “Fram” is pretty fast and great, melding that intricate Hessle Audio percussion with a distant and hushed vocal, T++ style. He pairs that with a real nice synth line that sounds like an Audi shifting gears as it blows by minivans on the freeway. “Iddy” starts with the sound of scissors chopping and that same creepy T++ whisper (or is it a field recording from a bird sanctuary?) before busting into a hardcore drumline workout. I really enjoy the contrast of banging drums and subtle creepy synth, of which Blawan’s debut is bountiful. For whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting this one to stack up to the rest of the Hessle Audio catalog, but shame on me, Fram / Iddy pursues excellence just the same.

Boys Noize & Erol Alkan Avalanche / Lemonade 12″ (Phantasy Sound)
Boys Noize and Erol Alkan are like the Batman and Robin of electro-house, consistently saving the day and quipping one-liners as they knock out the bad guys. Last year’s Waves / Death Suite got me hooked, so there was no passing up this delightfully-titled new single. “Avalanche” sticks with their modern-Knight Rider vision, conjuring images of an all-black Mercedes racing across a desert with no particular destination. These guys know how to build a track ’til it explodes, and they do that a few times in “Avalanche” to thrilling effect. “Lemonade” is a little sweeter, as expected, with a punchy, Daft Punk-esque riff and lots of fresh pulp mingling amongst the ice cubes. A perfect compliment to the summer heat. I’m not crazy about all Boys Noize, but his collaborations with Erol Alkan have been nothing short of great. As focused and sweat-laced as the tennis pros adorning the picture sleeve.

Danzig Deth Red Sabaoth LP (The End / Evilive)
Danzig’s first two albums are not only classics, they are classics that I routinely enjoy, as I frequently holler along to “Killer Wolf” or “Am I Demon” as fellow rush-hour commuters gawk, surely wishing they too were possessed by the man un-ironically nicknamed “Evil Elvis”. Deth Red Sabaoth is Danzig’s ninth proper album, pretty far removed from Danzig and Danzig II: Lucifuge, but his dark essence and one-in-a-million vocal style remain strong. I mean seriously, Danzig could sing for Passion Pit and it’d still just sound like Danzig. I miss John Christ’s subtle and groovy riffage, not to mention his name, but the band’s modern, almost nu-metal approach isn’t the laughing-stock it could be. “The Revengeful” is built to be a pro-wrestling entrance theme, as its basic riff commands headbanging and respect, with the perfect chorus for Danzig’s glorious howl. Can’t say I ever really wanted double-bass from Danzig’s drummer, but after getting used to the idea on “Rebel Spirits”, it certainly has its place within the overall sound of Deth Red Sabaoth. He’s still got the ballads (“Black Candy” carries the perfect combo of cheesy and stone-faced, and “On A Wicked Night” starts like a lullaby), and even though I might not make it through all eleven tracks every time I sit down with Deth Red Sabaoth, Danzig refuses to let me down.

Deadboy Cash Antics Vol. 1 12″ (Well Rounded)
Dubstep-infused R&B anthems aren’t what I’d expect from a guy named “Deadboy”, but whatever, I can get into it. “Way That I Love U” is a thick remix of Ashanti’s song of the same name, with a pleasurable bass boost, Joker-style synth work and various electronic effects sprinkled throughout. Deadboy seems to squeeze more emotion out of the vocal than I remember on the original; perhaps sweltering bass has that effect on any diva. Deadboy remixes a couple Cassie tracks on the flip – the first, “Unofficial Girl”, is spun deep into the UK dubstep arena, sounding more like a Joy Orbison original than a pop remix. “Long Way 2 Go” has a thuggish, David Banner swagger and a Kode9 shine, a nice display of just how complimentary the disparate tastes of American R&B and UK dubstep can be.

Defektors The Bottom of the City LP (Nominal / Grotesque Modern)
Deviants of all stripes, take note – there is hardly a modern punk rock band more worthy of your attention than Defektors. Pretty sure they released a single or two before this album, but it usually takes me more than a whim to pony up the Canadian shipping costs these days, which unfortunately left me blissfully ignorant of their greatness prior to The Bottom of the City. I hope those early records aren’t as good as The Bottom of the City, or else I’ll have to make that sacrifice, as this album is impeccable in both aesthetic and execution. Musically, Defektors tie together both coasts through the classic Dangerhouse bands (Eyes, Dils, X) and the nascent CBGBs punk scene (Richard Hell, Dead Boys), all with a healthy Wipers sheen. It’s great to hear a modern punk band working these Time Life: History of Punk influences, rather than relying on Killed By Death comps for aesthetic guidance, as everyone has already out-obscured everyone else, we’ve all got the Internet at this point, and when it all comes down to it, those classic punk bands of yore wrote some of the best songs of all time, even if you’re personally content with never hearing “Los Angeles” or “Blank Generation” again. It’s a hard style to own in this day and age, with a good thirty years of both failed and successful attempts, but Defektors wear it so well, balancing discordant and epic on “Bottom of the City” and just totally kicking things into high-gear with “Shadow of Fear” and “Doomsday Girl”. Lots of great choruses, a killer vocalist with nothing to prove, and a tough attitude make this one impossible to not recommend. Defektors’ peers can do the whole “look at me, I’m crazy” thing all they want, I’m going to hang with Defektors and try to pretend I’m as cool as they are.

Effi Briest Rhizomes LP (Sacred Bones)
Effi Briest have been kicking around Brooklyn (and maybe England?) for a few years now, but Rhizomes is my first experience with them. It’s kind of what I expected: mopey and slow post-punk with a female vocalist capable of either soft or shrieky (and often both). Effi Briest have received comparisons to the Slits, and I can see that in a way, Effi Briest approach their songs with a whole lot more caution and restraint, playing slow enough that mistakes simply don’t occur. Don’t come to Effi Briest looking for a boost of energy; this is not the soundtrack to an Ohio to New York overnight drive, nor will it pump you up enough to break your gym’s deadlift record. The whole vibe reminds me a lot of The xx, although Effi Briest are far more run-of-the-mill and write songs in a much more predictable gothy-post-punk format. The hooks are few and far between, which isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s just that most of these songs are over five minutes each (or at least feel that way) with nothing to command my focus. I’d love to get lost in the gray mist of Effi Briest, they just have to pull me in first.

Emeralds Does It Look Like I’m Here? 2xLP (Editions Mego)
Emeralds made easy fodder for “edition of 22 numbered cassettes of the guitarist eating breakfast” jokes, with a discography to rival the Hellacopters in just a few short years of existence. I enjoyed Allegory of Allergies, but felt the tracks were a bit too long to really appreciate, as they drifted without the direction I look for in my drone music. Does It Look Like I’m Here is a huge step in the right direction, as it works the same touchstones as Emeralds’ earlier material but with a focused, sharp delivery. I don’t think any of these cuts break ten minutes, whereas previously, the average Emeralds track demanded a chunk of time I could’ve spent completing an episode of Seinfeld. Could’ve sworn they were noisier in the past, too, or at least of lower fidelity, as everything on here is crisp, clear and gorgeous. Quite worthy of the hype! They go from bubbly ambiance and serene meditation to krauty rhythms and masterful epics like “Genetic”, clearly influenced by elder synth wizards like Tangerine Dream and J.D. Emmanuel, yet with a gaze aimed upward, toward the future. The answer to the album title is obvious: Emeralds have clearly arrived.

Excision & Datsik Boom / Swagga (Remixes) 12″ (Rottun)
Ever wish Michael Bay would retire from film-making… and start making dubstep techno? Well, allow me to introduce you to the combo of Excision and Datsik. The graphics for the DJ sleeve and center stickers feature some sort of Alien / Predator / Deceptacon hybrid anyway; it’s clear that these guys are on the right tip. Same goes for the tunes – “Boom (Skism Remix)” is utterly massive, robotic and violent, like one of those Transformers fight scenes where you have no idea what’s happening, except in this case, you can headbang to it. “Swagga (Downlink Remix)” keeps the vibe going, with some truly wild bass sounds and a mean voice yelling “guess I got my swagga back” every now and then. I understand that this music is only going to please a small slice of the general population, but I often crave gnarly, explosive-bass dubstep, and my action figures and Nintendo games are all boxed up in my parents’ attic… how can you hold this against me?

Innergaze We Are Strange Loops LP (Touch Your Life)
Aurora Halal and Jason Letkiewicz are Innergaze, two dance freaks bonded over synths and the many waves they can create. I knew of Letkiewicz from his Rhythm-Based Lovers project, so I was expecting some sort of breakin’ electro-boogie from Innergaze, but We Are Strange Loops is funky in a new-wave way; sure, it’s all analog synths and vintage drum machines, but the mix of warm and icy tones along with disaffected, dual-gendered vocals sets Innergaze up as a modern, dancy homage to 80’s homespun synth music. Authenticity isn’t some badge of honor that I think this sort of music needs to be judged by, because who can really prove what is or isn’t authentic synth-pop anyway, but Innergaze are the closest contemporary link to The Minimal Tapes that I’ve heard – just check the botched New Order riff and mumbled vocal on “Reception-Deception” and tell me otherwise. It’s a great sound, lightly restricted by its DIY fidelity, but nevertheless vibrant, party-ready, cheerful and melancholy all at the same time, with a BPM that changes smartly throughout the record. Most importantly, Innergaze come across as a group writing songs, not just loops and sounds, which has kept me digging this album deep into the night.

La Corde Back in Salem / Urban Burqa 7″ (no label)
Don’t let the cartoony cover art fool you into thinking this sounds like the Ergs or something, La Corde let their monochromatic, patina-riddled music set the mood. Simple and understated is a good way to go when it comes to guitar-led post-punk, so even though nothing about La Corde is sweeping me off my feet, I can easily get down with their vibe. “Back in Salem” has a punked-up Joy Division style, with a warbly vocal holler just far back enough in the mix, not unlike the way the old Camera Obscura on Troubleman used to do it (sans fuzz or feedback). La Corde mix the old and the recent in their sound, and it works. “Urban Burqa” acts similarly, with a spindly little guitar-line that gets theatrical through the chorus, flavored by a touch of Comsat Angels or Killing Joke for good measure. La Corde didn’t over-think things with their debut two-song single and I appreciate their restraint.

La Urss Product LP (Todo Destruido)
I didn’t make it to Chaos in Tejas, but I read the reports, and La Urss sounded particularly interesting: a young, Spanish punk band bribing Mexican officials to cross the border, along with a singer who clawed at his own chest ’til he bled onstage. Product doesn’t live up to that level of mayhem, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless. Pretty classic second-generation punk rock, ala early 80s Alternative Tentacles or the P.E.A.C.E. compilation, blended into a leopard-print smoothie, with a male singer who sounds like a mix of Jello Biafra and Kathleen Hanna. Depending on just how East Bay Ray the guitars get, La Urss can really let their Dead Kennedys flag fly, but a little DK worship never did any harm. Cool hand-screened chipboard sleeve design too, although it comes across a little more solemn then I think these guys really are, since they are sneering and smiling and dressed like Operation Ivy in all the pictures of them I’ve seen.

Ninca Leece Feed Me Rainbows 12″ (Thesongsays)
The first Skittles-inspired techno record? Ninca Leece is a French electronic artist who uses her breathy accent to a very sweet effect on “Feed Me Rainbows”. Her voice reminds me a bit of AGF’s, in its comfortingly soft foreign accent and clunky cadence, whispering over glitchy beats. This track’s a slow builder, rising from the sun-bleached aether into a quietly-funky house beat, never fully rising up, instead content to just turn over in bed on a perfect morning. I can hear butterflies flapping their wings and Cupid playing a trumpet softly on a cloud, and if I really concentrate, someone singing “Activia!” in the distance. Entirely pleasant and soothing, if not quite dancefloor-appropriate. The flip is a remix by Public Lover, who is apparently the duo of Leece and her techno husband, Bruno Pronsato. The remix definitely has a Pronsato vibe, with a rubbery beat and vocals processed through a twisting double-helix of effects and filters, creating a welcome complexity in contrast with the original. On the whole, it’s a subtle record, but one that glows warmly in the early light.

Mount Carmel Mount Carmel LP (Siltbreeze)
Even the most knowledgeable Acid Archives historian could be fooled into thinking this Mount Carmel debut is some long-lost gem, as it doesn’t sound remotely like 2010 – it doesn’t even sound like a modern band trying to sound like they’re from the ’60s. No, this is pure 1967-68 blues rock, as tried and true as a pair of Levi’s shrink-to-fit 501s. Every move Mount Carmel makes follows this aesthetic; I am honestly wondering if I haven’t already seen their name listed as an opening act on some classic Blue Cheer or Cream gig poster. They’ve even got an extended drum solo in “Hear Me Callin” and a track called “Studio Jam” that you can easily figure out. There is certainly nothing even remotely new here, which for Mount Carmel is a blessing. There is something holy and universal about this sort of power-trio rock music, it’s utterly impossible to dislike, and while the originators are either dead or scooping up all the car commercial money (or both), Mount Carmel are the dudes keeping the flame alive.

Nerve City Sleepwalker EP 12″ (Sacred Bones)
I really hated that Nerve City single on Hozac, still do, but Sleepwalkers offers some slight redemption. It still sounds like it was recorded from inside a tumbleweed, but this go around, I can actually hear what is happening, and it’s not half bad. Lonely, twangy, lo-fi blues with vocals sung by a cowboy’s ghost, warning you of drought and vultures in the next canyon. In a weird way, these songs are kind of pleasant in their scratchiness, as if this is what you heard upon finding out your grandfather wrote some songs while he was in jail. The hooks and vocalist aren’t so strong that I’m willing to sit through this more than once in a while, but I no longer mind what I hear from Nerve City.

Nuel Aquaplano Ltd 01 12″ (Aquaplano)
Nuel’s collaborations with Donato Dozzy had me searching for the vinyl like a man who lost his wedding ring in a hot tub, so why not investigate his solo efforts? I assume this one’s “limited”, as the title implies (and all Aquaplano releases are hard to come by anyway), but thankfully I snagged one. Five untitled cuts on here, ranging from atmospheric dancefloor meditations (the opener is a slow tug towards the cliff of some electronic infinity edge pool) to Basic Channel-inspired minimal techno (the first track on the flip sounds like Maurizio jamming with a heart monitor). I can dig deeply into Echospace and Basic Channel and any sort of dub techno that provides a foreboding sense of danger along with its euphoria, and Nuel is particularly stunning with this specific craft, happy to help the listener step outside his or her mind for a little while.

Pearson Sound Down With You / Higher 12″ (Darkestral Galaxicos)
Always nice to hear something new from Pearson Sound, my second favorite of David Kennedy’s nom de plumes (he’s also the superstar best known as Ramadanman). First off, I appreciate the use of colored vinyl and an actual record cover, this one sporting a sinister-looking version of Asteroids on the cover, a fleet of indestructible bosses waiting to disintegrate your puny vessel. An interesting contrast to the music, as “Down With You” is some of Kennedy’s mellowest work, still utilizing a frantic tin-can percussion loop, but cushioned by a soothing vocal and eletronic ambiance. Very understated. “Higher” has more of a push but is equally esoteric, emphasized by the hushed giggling and hoarse whispering mingling with various bird calls and subtle synths. An unessential yet tight single that melds Kennedy’s more experimental leanings with a straightforward and chill vibe.

ROTFLOL Rolling on the Floor Laughing Out Loud LP (Audio Dregs)
ROTFLOL is the solo moniker of Jacob Ciocci, the little mustachioed guy from Paper Rad and Extreme Animals, voted “most likely to wear a tie-dyed t-shirt with old Furbys and Burger King crowns sewn into the fabric” in his high school yearbook. Either you love his neon regurgitation of kid culture from the past two decades, or you don’t, but there’s no denying the sheer will-power and endless stamina Ciocci has for creating his art. Personally, I love the stuff, and Rolling on the Floor Laughing Out Loud is a fine retrospective of his work from the past ten years, featuring songs that were used as Paper Rad video soundtracks, previously unreleased club jams, and dance tracks created on antiquated computer systems. It helps to stare at his overstimulated collage art while listening, but the songs themselves hold up on their own: furious little grooves that borrow freely from 90’s rave culture, video game soundtracks, direct Justin Timberlake and Salt N’ Pepa rips – it’s all in there. This package comes with a digital download of the album with extended tracks, as well as a DVD; you only need some lukewarm Hot Pockets and a tall glass of Hi-C Ecto Cooler to complete the sensory experience.

Rusko O.M.G.! CD (Mad Decent)
Okay, so there’s a British dubstep guy named Rusko, and a British dubstep guy named Roska. These dudes never make it easy, do they? They both trade in party music for high-capacity venues, but Rusko seems most poised to cross over to the mainstream, as his club-step (see what I did there?) owes more to modern R&B radio and Diplo’s signature style than say, Burial or Skream. I’ve marveled at the YouTube videos of Rusko DJing at Control with a sea of people going nuts, and O.M.G.! is specifically meant for such a situation – party music that checks dancehall riddims, diva vocal hooks, wobbly dubstep bass, Lil’ Jon-esque refrains, Timbaland-inspired beats, and American rap posturing off the list. And like any modern club-pop album, O.M.G.! has some fantastic tracks and a bunch that just drag along (“Scareware” in particular seems much longer than its four-and-a-half-minute run time). Fine as it is, I’ll probably forget this album exists in a couple months, but I will continue to dream about crossing the Atlantic, just to witness Rusko driving hundreds of young men and women to the sweat-drenched brink of euphoria.

Sex Church 6 Songs by Sex Church LP (Convulsive)
I missed Sex Church’s debut single on Sweet Rot, but the impression I got of the band sounded cool: goth-punk with teeth. If that was the case, they have matured a little on 6 Songs, going back to the original goth rockers, the Velvet Underground, for some inspiration. There isn’t much in the way of unhinged freak-outs on here, rather Sex Church strum their single-string riffs with a sunglasses-at-night coolness, almost as if Spacemen 3 wrote songs with punk rock verse/chorus structures. They follow a couple fuzzed-out rockers with a heroin ballad like “The Floor”, allowing them room to grow without sounding unfocused. Hope this band tours soon, their sound allows for a wide variety of hairstyles (mop-tops, long n’ greasy, pretty much anything but dreads) and I want to see what they’ve chosen. On a side note, is Convulsive on the Sacred Bones tip or what? I understand that these labels are good buds, but we’ve got “Convulsive Records Presents” on the front of a silk-screened white jacket with the label logo on the back of a moody and gothy post-punk record… there are far worse labels to imitate, no doubt.

Sis Sceam / Break Down 12″ (Cocoon)
I always have to go searching for new Sis records, he just doesn’t get a whole lot of internet promotion (at least in my daily web travels), but my effort has always been worth it. Besides being a proof-reader’s nightmare, “Sceam” is Sis just as I want him to be: bouncy, fun, slightly druggy, and based around a memorable vocal loop. The main vocal on this one sounds like some sort of melodic asthma attack, which is soon aided by various other singers and moaners, building wonderfully towards a Cocoon-worthy level of revelry. “Break Down” is less ecstatic and moodier, one of Sis’s house cool-downs, although the repetitive vocal loop (guess which two words are said) is nearly as catchy as the a-side. I really get a lot of mileage out of Sis’s continually expanding discography, one that seems undisturbed by modern trends and completely comfortable with just pounding out infectious tech-house and sticking a tiny colored umbrella on top. I’m still playing his records from the past few years on a regular basis so something must be working.

Alex O. Smith Ultra Fine One 12″ (FXHE)
My main gripe with No Fun Acid was that it came across without any flair, chutzpah or attitude, sounding like someone just turned on a 303, set the dial to preset sequence #07 and let it rip. Ultra Fine One is a perfect example of how to make modern acid music the right way, and a fine addition to my ever-expanding FXHE collection. Sticking with the Alex O. Smith name, Mr. S is on fire with both “Ultra Fine One” and “Ultra Fine Two”, swapping out hi-hat ticks, pumping or deflating the bass, echoing some claps and just expertly kneading the ripply acid line like clay on a potter’s wheel. Some guys just have techno in their blood. The last cut is named “Mid 90’s”, making it clear that Omar S and myself have had two very different experiences of that decade; it’s another fine acid workout with a meaty thump. The vinyl plays from the inside out and doesn’t even come with a DJ sleeve, although there’s really no reason Ultra Fine One should be sitting on anyone’s shelf for too long.

Kurt Vile Square Shells EP 12″ (Matador)
Not one to rest on his laurels, even as he is deep within the trenches of early fatherhood, Kurt Vile is back with another brief collection of new-and-old music. When held up against Childish Prodigy, or God Is Saying This To You, Square Shells has been the most immediately satisfying of the three, probably because it takes all of ten seconds until the hook of opener “Ocean City” is indelibly etched into one’s brain. This one’s new to me and a satisfyingly silly little tune, Kurt strumming his acoustic rather than picking, the type of song that can be performed competently through any level of sobriety. One of my favorite early demo cuts finally gets the proper treatment here too, “I Know I Got Religion”, boasting some of his finest lyrics to date (“I stopped using picks, just another thing between me and my guitar”, among other gems) and a pitch-perfect melody. Vile also offers a chill-wave version of an interlude that already made it on a different release, titled here as “Losing Momentum (for Jim Jarmusch)”; I think the other version is off Constant Hitmaker, I certainly recognize that brooding little guitar lick no matter what the speed. I love little replays like that; I’ll never tire of Kurt Vile’s various self-references throughout every release. Maybe it’s the brevity of Square Shells that promotes such a high level of enjoyment, but regardless, this stop-gap EP has more than enough essential Vile to be considered a worthy addition to the family.

Wolfgang Voigt Freiland Klaviermusik CD (Profan)
I’ve always considered Wolfgang Voigt to be a charming figure, never caught in public without wearing a tailored suit, and as quick to offer houseguests a thoughtfully arranged amuse-bouche as he is to create entire new genres of electronic music (both pop-ambient and minimal techno are covered in his fingerprints). I missed the Freiland Klaviermusik 12″ from a couple years ago, so this new one completely took me by surprise – this is Voigt at his most diabolical, unhinged and antagonistic, a far cry from anything ambient or pop. The entire album is based around the piano or harpsichord (most likely synthesized, but who knows for sure), sometimes backed with a repetitive bass pulse, sometimes performed solely on the right side of the keyboard without any rhythmic sense of motion. This might sound bland, except for the fact that Voigt plays the piano in such a maddeningly off-key way, like multiple small children banging on the keys, or some particularly sloppy Conlon Nancarrow piece, as if Voigt’s aim is to peel away the listener’s sanity. And he succeeds! Freiland Klaviermusik is utterly frightening at times, grating at others, and occasionally menacing… but mostly grating. Save for “Geduld”, this is not even remotely dance music, this is what plays in your head when you’re trying to fall asleep in a bedroom with a confirmed bedbug infestation, just waiting for those little guys to crawl out of the cracks and dig in as soon as you lose consciousness. Voigt has completely flipped the script with this hilarious fick dich of a record, so exasperating that I simply can’t stop playing it.

The Wankys / Lotus Fucker split 7″ (Katorga Works / SPHC)
If Yellow Green Red had a buzz bin, I’d gladly throw this astringent split single in there. The Wankys and Lotus Fucker toured the US together in June, commemorated by a poster that comes with the record (forever immortalized as the “Noisy Summer US Tour”). In case you missed them in your town, or the cider spills they left behind have fully dried, The Wankys offer three tracks of noise-punk in the proud tradition of Disorder and Confuse, if maybe a little sillier than those originators – for example, their side starts with a song called “Princess Wanky”, based on a riff that sounds a whole lot like Kiss’s “Deuce”. Nice and snotty, these songs stayed with me longer than their material on the Exit Hippies split, perhaps due to the more manageable portion size. I’ve been eager to hear Lotus Fucker, despite hearing that they are Anime freaks (I’ve yet to find a satisfying Anime/hardcore mix), and with these two tracks they make The Wankys sound like The Riverdales by comparison. Lotus Fucker kick it off with a massive grind blast, followed by various breakdowns, d-beats and passages of feedback, completely crazed yet never verging screamo. I still haven’t figured out where the first song ends and the second begins, but who cares? Time to track down their LP.

Wild Thing Age Difference 7″ (Daggerman)
I’m fond of bands with names that are so obvious, they should’ve been used dozens of times before, but somehow haven’t been. I know this band is hated/beloved for being provocative and “telling it like it is”, and I can get behind a punk rock loudmouth, but I’m not sure Wild Thing has the songs to really back it up just yet. Opener “(Now I Wanna Die In A) Nuclear War” is as generic as the title, but it’s a good generic, fast and simple and hectic, with a nice little overdubbed bored-guy vocal on the chorus. The other two tracks lose me a little… “Age Difference” ain’t bad; it reminds me of Nodzzz, or some other young garage band that carries a separate stash of lunch money specifically for the bullies. “I’m Smoking (Leave Me Alone)” has a cool, Loli and the Chones-worthy premise, but the song never quite picks up momentum. It’s their second single, so these guys could still grow into something better, but they haven’t yet earned the Dwarves-esque level of misogyny that their artwork so desperately portrays.