Anadol Uzun Havalar LP (Kinship / Pingipung)
Record of the month right here! I came across Anadol from reading a recent Vital Weekly transmission (a wonderfully obsessive outsider-music email newsletter), took a listen and was immediately hooked by her inclusive-yet-atypical sounds, casting a wide net over kosmische kraut-rock, moody synth-wave and avant jazz. Anadol is the name chosen by Turkish-born, Berlin-based Gözen Atila, and Uzun Havalar is a stunning statement, the sort of album whose clutches you immediately fall into. To create this record, Atila gathered a number of players to improvise on Middle Eastern folk songs, or so the story on Bandcamp goes, but the result is a unique set of sprawling, evocative portraits recalling city skylines under moonlight, criminal-infested jazz clubs, secret hookah lounges, and Klaus Schulze riding a camel solo across a sand dune at dusk. The drum machines occasionally share sonic properties with something off the Bippp French synth-wave comp, but then there’ll be some choked-up laughter folded into the track instead of pop vocals, or sultry trumpets to signify the arrival of a devious new element… Anadol has a vast arsenal at her display, and she wields it marvelously. Throughout the whole record, it remains unclear what is live music and what underwent post-production editing, resulting in an album that feels both authentic and fictional, like a book that’s clearly just a book but haunts your dreams at night just the same. Fascinating, stunning music that I can’t stop spinning.

Argument? Argument? 7″ (…)
Following that great Current Affairs single, the … label continues with the Crass-stencil-lettered Argument?, straight outta… Los Angeles, actually. Not sure how they linked up with this Berlin-based punk label, but they did, and they’re offering up six tracks on this vinyl debut. It might be the logo, but I’m definitely picking up a Bullshit Detector vibe to their style, which is unprofessional, guitar-free protest-punk. Just bass, drums, the occasional additional sound-effect of unorthodox origin, and two vocalists who chime along together and volley off each other. Like much of the Bullshit Detector roster, Argument? are a band that sucks by most metrics, but that’s part of their charm, of course. I like them at their best when they maniacally lose track of what they’re doing (“Alone” is a modern party-punk tune that needed to be written), acting as possessed spiritual heirs to Delta 5 and Fatal Microbes, but their more straightforward songs (“Ask”, for example) can feel like an early K Records throwaway, which I guess is a reasonable pitfall for roots-level music such as this. I have to say, I do wonder what a particularly stylish and untrained guitarist might add to Argument?’s sound, but I accept that I might go to my grave without ever finding out.

Buffet All-American LP (Knw-Yr-Own / Resurrection / All You Can Eat)
Kind of a bold move, coming up with a band name / album title to represent the worst of the buffet options? (Chinese and Indian tie for first place, then comes pizza, as far as I’m concerned.) And yet this punk band out of Anacortes, WA perseveres, perhaps even thrives, off the various miseries and inconveniences that living in Anacortes provides. From what I can tell, it’s their debut record, and it’s a solid serving of messy hardcore, poppy punk and their various intersections. Might be revealing my age a bit here, but my ears are reminded of FYP and the slappiest Recess Records bands, at times verging into the tuneless-pop bashings of a group like Slobber, as well as the cunningly tight and melodic speed-core of groups like Quadiliacha and I Spy. Feels like the best of the mid-to-late ’90s punk underground where hardcore (and even power-violence) would butt up against pop-punk, fully equipped with a modern sense of ennui. “I Like To Shop” is a great example of Buffet’s skills, working a discordant post-grunge riff to its most primitive ends, with frantic nerd vocals extolling the virtues of Amazon shopping (sarcastically, of course), reminiscent of a burlier and drier Diarrhea Planet (go on, take this moment to reflect upon the concept of “dry diarrhea”). If Buffet aren’t the best band in Anacortes, I need to get my hands on that scene report!

Cement Shoes Too LP (Feel It)
Richmond punkers Cement Shoes take the step from a Feel It 7″ single to a Feel It full-length LP. Why waste any time? My hardcore-punk studies have informed me that Cement Shoes features members of Brown Sugar, Fried Egg and Haircut, and while I didn’t expect such a star-studded affair, I can’t say I’m surprised by the sounds of Too based on the band’s pedigree. These songs work from a base template of contemporary mainstream-snubbing scruffy hardcore-punk (bands like Glue, Acrylics or any of the aforementioned groups) but take the time to infuse it with nods to early heavy metal (ala White Boy & The Average Rat Band) or other leather-accessorizing forms of guitar music alongside an imbibing-friendly party-time attitude. It’s as if there’s an understood agreement between Cement Shoes and the listener that the world is run by poisonous cretins, but instead of harping on that, let’s all get high on dirt weed, eat a gross pizza and laugh at Home Alone… a most useful form of escapism (at least when taken in small doses). I kinda feel like Vexx was headed in this musical direction toward their end, a sort of Judas Priest-informed classic hardcore sound (check “Mine Mine Mine” on here for some denim-clad beer-chugging riffage), and it’s nice to see that more than a couple bands are picking up that thread (Pinocchio included, I suppose it’s fair to say). Quite a good album here, although the Feel It quality has been so high lately that I’d say this falls somewhere closer to the middle of the pack, if we insist on viewing music as a competitive sport. Call them what you want, but there’s no way Cement Shoes are jocks!

The Clog The Clog 7″ (no label)
If you’re gonna call yourself “The Clog”, you might as well go and actually clog up a pipe, which is exactly what local Pacifica, CA resident George Albert Carpenter has done. I was hoping for an antagonistic synth-punk record ala The Wad, simply out of band name similarity, but The Clog is punk in a different way. These four songs remind me of Home Blitz and Pink Reason, in that the music feels like it was made by a lonely young white guy in a town that doesn’t understand him. These songs feel inspired not only by like, Jonathan Richman and Jandek and I dunno, Still Life(?), but also by the isolation of living in an anti-creative suburban locale that doesn’t care if you live or die. The similarities are there! For example, after three somewhat tuneful indie-punk strummers, the last track “I Am The Shark Herder” erupts with thick stoner riffing not unlike Bongzilla or Iron Monkey, which seems out of place, but also perfectly fitting if you’re a guy calling yourself The Clog and capturing the clash of musical ideas that erupts from your brain and heart. Not sure if this will blossom into a long and fruitful career ala Home Blitz or if this will be the sole documented instance of The Clog, but either way is cool with me.

Cop Warmth Self Harm LP (no label)
Cop… Warmth? Not sure what to make of that, but I’m hoping it’s supposed to invoke the image of some funeral pyre of law enforcement, a toasty bonfire with which to warm one’s self, but maybe I’m just projecting my own fantasies. I do get the feeling that blue lives don’t particularly matter to Cop Warmth, though, as this is some angry, vaguely-criminal-sounding noise-rock they’re dishing out on this self-released full-length. I’m picking up sour flavors similar to Unsane, Cherubs, maybe a little His Hero Is Gone when they break it down, and probably some Young Widows too – Cop Warmth play what are essentially hardcore riffs, but in a metallic fashion with plenty of swirling feedback and cacophony. If that’s your fancy, there’s a good chance you’d enjoy driving around town seeking drugs and a bad time to Self Harm, although if you’re more of an upstanding-citizen egghead who likes to nerd out on heavy and abrasive noise-rock in the comfort of your own home, you’d probably dig it too, even if there’s a better chance you might notice that the vocals are deeply buried in the mix (for better or worse) and that Cop Warmth deliver more of a general sound than a distinct set of songs. Pretty sure if you order a copy of the LP from the band, they’ll send you a big Cop Warmth poster, suitable to be hung in your window for maximum neighbor confusion.

Cosima Ploaia 7″ (Pingipung / Future Nuggets)
What’s up with Romania, and Bucharest in particular? From Petre Inspirescu to Khidja, that city seems to have a lock on eclectic techno / electronic pop, and I’d be remiss to not include Cosima’s debut single, which might be the most fascinating of them all. Her full name is Cosima Opârtan and she’s credited on Discogs as a “designer and singer”, and however it is that these two seductively elusive pop gems came to be, I’m supremely thankful I get to bare witness. “Ploaia” coasts on mournful steel drums, old-country string picking (could be a guitar, but I’m assuming not?), seedy low-end and Cosima’s rich and emotive vocal. It’s Balearic with a hint of goth, the subtle residue of trip-hop and the excitement of something new entirely. “Mai E Și Altfel De-a Iubi” has me imagining Sade produced by John T. Gast; it gallops out with a great muted guitar line and a sweeping, dramatic chorus, all in a language I don’t even slightly understand. Post-R&B for the apocalypse generation, let’s say. How is it that Blackest Ever Black or Low Company hasn’t already scooped up Cosima for a multi-album deal? This feels like a more polished, less basement-y take on what they’ve been aesthetically seeking for the past few years, like they’ve been running layup drills and Cosima showed up with an immediate slam dunk. Only two songs, but each of them are nearly perfect in their own right. I’d fly out to Bucharest to seek out undiscovered Cosima tracks, but I don’t want to spoil this wonderful mystery. I trust that Cosima knows best.

De Sluwe Vos Trans Magnetic Stimulation 12″ (Who’s Susan)
There are like at least five hundred young guys actively making club-thumping electro (not to mention all the non-young, non-guys making it!), and as it’s a style that I like to keep on steady rotation in my life, I frequently dip into that vast pool in hopes of hooking a winner. That’s what I did with De Sluwe Vos (translated to “The Slow Fox” in English), the chosen alias of Dutch producer / DJ Robert Vosmeijer. These tracks are electro comfort food, direct descendants of Drexciya and Alden Tyrell (and, going deeper in that lineage, The Egyptian Lover and Cybotron). De Sluwe Vos seems to be a live DJ first and a producer second, which means that these tracks are fine tailored for crowd engagement and physical motion. That’s what I want my electro to do, so it’s a perfect match! I like the big cascading synths on the title track (as well as a bigger-fisted remix care of someone named “Dexter”), and I also like the funky acid line that brings “Alphaeus” to life. The basic building blocks are fertile and strong here, and Vosmeijer infuses them with enough oddball tricks and flourishes (the dying modem blackouts that pepper “Alphaeus”, for instance) to keep me on my toes. Otherwise I’d just be on the balls of my feet, popping and locking with the smooth versatility of Todrick Hall, as I’m often known to do.

Dwig Music For XXX 2xLP (Dwig)
What do you say, how about some Giegling-affiliated smooth German deep house from a guy whose name is reminiscent of Integrity’s infamous vocalist? Count me in! There seems to be no end to the many branches and roots that extend from the Giegling family, or at least that’s my excuse for not knowing about Dwig previously, as his discography is fairly robust (and judging from the secondhand prices, quite desirable). After spinning Music For XXX a large number of times, I can certainly see why, as this is remarkably beautiful downtempo house, lush with ambient flora and twinkling with curlicues of piano and warm, bubble-bath bass. Feels like driving around LA at night in a Nissan Ultima fresh from the dealer without any other cars around, which of course is an impossible scenario for many reasons, but satisfying to dream about nonetheless (speaking personally, not universally, here). I’m reminded of the last Kettenkarussell album (although Dwig isn’t as much of a heartstring-tugger) with the soft touch of Portishead’s rain-soaked cab windows and the cordial, subtle elegance that Map.ache lends to his house music. Deeply refined and unhurried tunes, it might not be what you had in mind for an “XXX” experience but it’s enriched my non-carnal activities considerably.

The Gotobeds Debt Begins At 30 LP (Sub Pop)
C’mon, if you didn’t chuckle at the title of The Gotobeds’ third album the first time you saw it, I have to wonder if we’d be compatible as friends. These Pittsburgh dudes get it, the conundrum of life sucking (but sucking way worse for other people, so why are we so miserable?), and they apply that sort of educated slackerdom to this album, another tidy collection of upbeat and stubbly indie-rock songs (using the definition from back when indie-rock presented an actual alternative to corporate rock). They’ve probably been compared to artists like Pavement and Protomartyr before (and while neither are a bullseye, it’d be hard to argue with either), so they got savvy and actually brought on members of both of those groups (and members of Silkworm and Shellac and Downtown Boys and more) to contribute little bits and pieces to this album, either singing a guest verse or making some noise or plucking a piano wire somewhere in the mix. They even got living rock legend Gerard Cosloy to do something on here – maybe quietly nibble a New York slice in the corner of a vocal booth? Who can ever know for sure! It certainly gives the album a bit more of an obvious angle, a slant that might tempt a music writer to get excited more than just “aging white guys release punk-ish indie-rock album on Sub Pop” in an age and era that is very much not excited by that. They also included a song called “Poor People Are Revolting” here, following an earlier album by that same name, but it’s unclear if anyone notices details that aren’t Spotify play-counts these days. Forget everyone else anyway – I’m listening, Gotobeds, and I like it!

Akiko Haruna Delusions 12″ (Where To Now?)
The Where To Now? label has provided me with lots of great discoveries over the past decade (Beatrice Dillon, Lutto Lento and Machine Woman to name a few), and as it had been a minute since I checked in with the label, the time felt right to pick up Akiko Haruna’s Delusions solely on label association. It was worth the risk, as Haruna’s debut EP is a fine chunk of modern “deconstructed” club music, both sharp-edged and turbid. Her beats are easily disturbed and powerful, like a particularly anxious Mumdance running away from the ghost of Aïsha Devi. They collapse on themselves, power-up like a video game character and flitter like a flock of birds disturbed by a passing motorist. The detail is extravagant but keeps the listener at a distance – only Haruna knows for certain what’s inside this musical box. It’s her vocals (not personally, but the vocals she’s chosen to sample) that make Delusions for me, as they’re processed exquisitely, layering different pitches and dramatically glitched to inhuman heights. Not really a dance record, unless you’re one of those psychos who busts a move to Jlin’s albums, but I find myself fully satisfied by experiencing Delusions in a seated position. The gravity of “Husband Established”, for example, is so wonky that I might fall down if I tried to stand up anyway.

Jean-Luc Des Litres D’essence 12″ (Knekelhuis)
When I hear the name “Jean-Luc”, two distinct thoughts come to mind: the captain of Star Trek’s Next Generation, and that early ’90s coffee commercial where two women reminisce about a trip to France (truly a classic advertisement of my youth). And what do you know, this debut EP from Western Europe’s Jean-Luc (it’s a band, not a guy) is a suitable third, filled with the retro-futurist unknown of the Starship Enterprise and as awkwardly fulfilling as a hot cup of artificially-flavored java. Across these five tracks, the group pursues pleasantly strange forms of not-quite-techno and certainly-not-synthpop, seemingly unrestrained by traditional electronic aesthetics but clearly focused on what they want to do. I’m reminded of the playful electro-trickery of Carlos Peron at his finest (Peron’s Impersonator album is mandatory listening), as well as the post-electro textural funk of Charles Manier’s last album (another personal fave). These tracks vary from slow and misty grooves ala Excepter at their most nervous to brazen EBM bangers with a punk attitude, and it all works (and is all the better for the variety). Probably a little late-period Throbbing Gristle going on here too, maybe a spritz of Jac Berrocal’s freeform fusion, and at least one of the hairs on Maoupa Mazzocchetti’s chin all bubbling in the same cauldron. Leave it to Knekelhuis to bestow this engaging and genre-busting debut upon us, seemingly equipped with an endless inventory of inventive and bizarre electronic music at their disposal. Keep it coming!

Vesa-Matti Kivioja Mineral Waves 12″ (Ljudverket)
If you read the phrase “Finnish dub-techno” and aren’t at least mildly appreciative, I have to wonder what collection of errors led you to this website. Vesa-Matti Kivioja is a Finnish producer making exactly that, and his native culture of frozen snowy winters, steamy saunas, endless light and endless night serve him well on the four tracks that comprise this EP. The sensual pacing of “Wavellite” recalls Donato Dozzy circa K, whereas the stuttering dub vibrations of “Corundum” favor a similar sound palate as Sasu Ripatti (under his guises of Vladislav Delay and Luomo). Those are probably two decent signposts for Mineral Waves on a whole, which seems to investigate the slower end of tech-house while channeling the pleasant isolation of classic dub-techno. Nothing new, maybe, but that doesn’t prevent me from slowly melting into my couch in a liminal state of bliss while Mineral Waves spins. “Kosmochlor” wraps the EP and it’s easily the most abstract cut here, favoring subtle harp-like strings and finger percussion (or so I’m guessing) for an invigorating splash of peacefulness. Mmmm…

Kyosanto Communist LP (Bitter Lake Recordings)
Bitter Lake’s been diving deep into bizarre Japanese underground sounds for the past few releases, but this one is an easy home run: a first-ever vinyl collection of obscure early-’80s Hiroshima-based punk band Kyosanto. Is it even possible to reissue barely-known Japanese punk and not sell out immediately these days? The people have spoken and this is what they want. Communist not only properly breaks down how to pronounce the word on the cover (silly me, I always thought it was “commun-IST”), it compiles their two 1984 cassette tapes, remastered for true punk audiophiles. The first tape is pretty by the books, maybe sounding a little 1981 for 1984, but there were surely some extenuating circumstances to prevent Kyosanto from being on top of the hardcore-punk trends. The second tape, however, is more intriguing to my ears, if mostly because the guitar is almost entirely inaudible – a dramatic departure from the typical recording quality of the first tape. It’s faster and gnarlier – imagine the first Youth Brigade demo under the influence of The Stalin with the guitar completely muted and you’re close to what Kyosanto offered here. It’s baffling – the guitar is still there if you squint your ears hard enough, but it seems like the rest of the band gave him the Vinnie Stigma treatment for whatever reason. Hardcore-punk, and Japanese hardcore-punk in particular, are full of inexplicable mysteries that leave the mind to wander, and it beats thinking about pretty much anything else.

L.O.T.I.O.N. Urban Madman 7″ (Hardcore Survives)
Turns out L.O.T.I.O.N. released a “limited” 7″ for their Japanese tour in June, so I did the only reasonable thing and flew over there to catch them in the act and pick up a copy. Just kidding, the good folks over at Iron Lung got in some copies! I’m still reeling from the grotesque societal mirror that is L.O.T.I.O.N.’s most recent full-length, but these three new tunes are a welcome addition, and more of their own separate thing than an addendum to the album. “It Breaks” is an electro-rave stomp-down, a grizzled anthem geared for generator-run bridge parties with crust-pants and synth-dreads steaming in the moonlight. “Why Why Wifi?” turns up the BPM considerably for what could be a lo-fi Ministry demo in the clutches of Sakevi, and the b-side’s “Cut The Wires” goes back to that party under the bridge, bringing an EBM / Happy Hardcore vibe into the pit care of the mangled guitar riff and Alexander Heir’s Cobra Commander vocals. Much appreciated that L.O.T.I.O.N. decided to do this EP the old fashioned way (black vinyl, OBI strip) before we’re all permanently vacuumed up into cyberspace.

The Mentally Ill Gacy’s Place 12″ (Last Laugh)
The Mentally Ill recorded eight legendary tracks at Starbeat Studios on New Year’s Day 1979, three of which ended up on their debut 7″ EP. The rest were bootlegged, then officially issued by Alternative Tentacles in 2004 (and presumably still floating around one way or another), but just like Moby Dick or Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”, these timeless classics deserve to be made available to the public in new editions til the end of time. That’s what this new Gacy’s Place 12″ is, to commemorate the 40th anniversary (wow) of this session. It’s a little funny to note the fact that most modern hardcore-punk bands take more influence from The Mentally Ill than say, Bad Religion or 7 Seconds, but The Mentally Ill and their twisted tunes really speak to our time. The bass is a fuzzy smudge, the drummer is surprisingly adept, the guitar playing is adequate at best and the vocalist truly sounds like one of those twerpy ’60s Batman villains who need to be locked away for good. These songs are purposely psychotic, punk rock that’s meant to frighten not just the norms but their fellow punks, too. I can only imagine what the general reaction to The Mentally Ill was back in 1979, assuming there was any reaction at all, but it’s a testament to their artistic vision that kids born in 1999 are trying their hardest to sound as demented and unfit for society as The Mentally Ill did so many years ago. They’re apparently still playing too, after what must’ve been decades off, but I’m scared to find out what that’s like – could it in any way enhance my enjoyment of these songs? No, right?

Metrist Pollen Pt. 1 12″ (Timedance)
I don’t know about you, but I love all these progressive techno guys out of Bristol and Brighton and other cozy British cities with names like Metrist and Peverelist and Appleblim, names that conjure graffiti taggers or scientists from the distant future. It’s such an entertaining and lively scene, and a record like Pollen Pt. 1 from Brighton’s Metrist is a sparkling example. Much like Ploy, Bruce, Batu and Laksa, Metrist pushes his post-dubstep / techno-adjacent beats through fascinating wormholes, twisting their shapes like a 3D printer gone haywire. “OL Face You Got” is the opener and probably my favorite of the bunch – a spoken vocal is diced into a glorious robotic stutter while the beat absolutely bangs, consistently cutting in and out to ensure maximum excitement. While the similarities in sound to the other names listed here are numerous, Metrist sticks out by being a little less direct-to-dancefloor in his pacing and beats than your average Timedance slugger, and not quite as avant-garde or rhythmically disruptive as say, Bruce or Objekt. Yes, I listen to a heck of a lot of this stuff in order to split these hairs that are probably only meaningful to myself and a tiny group of likeminded ‘eads, but I can’t think of a better use of my precious time here on Earth.

Overcalc Meaningless Terrain LP (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia)
Pretty sure Overcalc is the one class every computer-science major hates but is required to take in order to graduate. It’s also the solo work of Nick Skrobisz of Multicult, and while Multicult are cool and all, I think Overcalc is his finest musical achievement to date! He plays guitar and programs electronics here, and it’s an expert-level melding of Tangerine Dream- / Ash Ra-style analog-synthesized processes and heavy metal theatrics care of the electric guitar. There are five tracks on the a-side, which investigate various hypothetical adventures (what if The Champs battled Jean Michel Jarre?), occasionally accompanied by electronic percussion or, more likely, solely the distinct pairing of computerized arpeggios and lightning-fast riffs. The b-side is entirely inhabited by “Bent Star”, and it’s the pinnacle of what he’s doing – honestly, where can he possibly go from here? Imagine if Iron Maiden stormed Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4, Eddie cackling as he types “666” in bright glowing green letters across every computer monitor in the studio. It just keeps going and going, and getting deeper and more intense, the sort of musical thrill-ride I’m always looking to hop on for a spin. If this sounds remotely appealing to you, trust me, it is!

Rashomon Pathogen X 12″ (Iron Lung)
Perhaps the only Criterion-approved hardcore band around, DC’s Rashomon follow their tapes with a one-sided 12″ care of the esteemed Iron Lung Records. The title Pathogen X sounds like it’s one of Wolverine’s greatest foes, and it works well for the thrashy, Burning Spirits-inspired hardcore contained within. Vocalist Kohei Urakami is presumably screaming lyrics, but his vocals come across more as sustained cries of anguish, which is probably more fun than reciting actual words anyway. He really leans into it, as though he just fought two vans full of hired goons and knows he’s got to go through at least two more before reaching the evil kingpin. Very capable and skillful hardcore-punk that reaches the metallic edge but never goes over, with longer songs befitting classic artists such as Nightmare and Death Side. Cool to see that hardcore lifer Pat Vogel plays in this band too (of Crispus Attucks, Sick Fix and many more), revealing Rashomon as a multi-generational hardcore band (and presumably all the stronger for it). On a side note, feels like I’ve been seeing a number of one-sided hardcore/punk 12″s lately… is this just the economic result of 7″s becoming unfeasible and undesirable, knowing that audiences are more likely to pay for a 7″ EP’s worth of music if its spread across twelve inches instead? Or maybe it’s just fun to have a big etched b-side, as is the case with Pathogen X.

Suburban Cracked Collective Private Failings LP (No Confidante Dictae)
Very cool under-the-radar debut here from Suburban Cracked Collective, the name Shaun Lacey (of Newcastle, Australia) has given to his secluded avant murmurings. It’s fairly inscrutable music, but allow me to try to, umm, scrute it – it’s what I love to do! There’s what seems to be live percussion (a normal drum kit struck with abnormal mallets?), stringed instruments (maybe a guitar), and sparse electronics that seem to be knocking on death’s door, and Lacey weaves it all together in an understated and alluring fashion. The sonic rhythms of first-world convenience shaped into little instrumental “songs” that no one will ever hear, except here I am, hearing them right now. One might file it under “industrial”, but these tracks are so weary and lacking even the slightest sense of confrontational aggression… perhaps “dark occult music for completely unreligious ceremonies” is more appropriate, but most record shops don’t have a section for that. “Milton’s Stilton” might be my favorite cut here, as it seems to be a chopped n’ screwed foghorn dueling with a faulty HVAC system, but the b-side-encompassing “The Bird Ceased To Be Articulate” is wonderful too, some sort of stylistic convergence of the loneliest Dead C-related solo projects and the mysterious new-age noise of Civilistjävel!. No matter how you slice it, Private Failings is a prime slab from the Aussie post-noise underground.

Taiwan Housing Project Sub-Language Trustees LP (Ever/Never)
Philadelphia’s got a few hundred guitar-rock bands at least, dozens of which I personally like, but I think Taiwan Housing Project might be my favorite? They are striking both sonically and visually (the last time I saw them, they had the largest bassist I’ve ever seen playing the tiniest bass guitar I’ve ever seen), uncompromising in their vision for even the slightest moment, and it’s a joy to behold. Case in point: Sub-Language Trustees is their second full-length, and they open it the way your average post-punk / no-wave group might end theirs, with “Charitable Fiend”, a song that lurches forward in and out of depression in a manner befitting the final moments of a live set, when the drums are already half torn down and at least one guitarist has wandered off stage. And then after a short pause, it comes back! This is music that’s meant to turn off anyone who can’t be turned on, and it’s a bold way to kick things off. Once they’ve sorted out their audience, the queasy throb of “Vessel Creep” churns like Häagen-Dazs soft-serve with all manner of corrosive and unpleasant effects hovering over it, guitars imitating broken toys and electronics (?) pretending they’re Jimi Hendrix. Beautiful! “Buy Buy Buy”, perhaps the strongest track on here by traditional music metrics, follows, with a riff so stanky Royal Trux would’ve left it on the curb for pickup. Even more beautiful! I could continue my track-by-track celebration of Sub-Language Trustees, but neither you nor I needs that, so I’ll conclude by saying that if you appreciate the spiky, slimy underbelly of noise-punk basement-blues neo-no-wave, this is the unsanctioned ride-share you’ve been waiting to slip into.

Waxy Tomb Imminent Fold LP (Gilgongo)
Can’t help but think about popular death-metal group Tomb Mold when I see the name Waxy Tomb, but wouldn’t the waxiness help prevent mold? So many deep tomb thoughts to process. Anyway, Waxy Tomb is the name that multimedia artist Jules Litman-Cleper has given to her musical output, and it’s oddly fitting, as the music is a slurpy, slimy brine of warped synths and hacked electronics. I’m reminded of the more playful material made by artists like Panicsville, Pod Blotz and Metalux, groups that came out of the early ’00s noise scene covered in neon goop instead of baggy camo pants and black flight jackets. Litman-Cleper adds their heavily-processed vocals to the squished 8-bit tones and malfunctioning rhythms, resulting in a sticky mess worth blessing. I’m also reminded of Cotton Museum, as that Midwestern noise project married the artist’s distinctive visual art to the music in striking fashion, which is very much the case with Waxy Tomb. Imminent Fold comes with a big glossy booklet, thick with sprawling digital renderings of tumorous growths and fictional objects, so richly detailed and meticulously conjured that I can’t tell if the music is supporting the art, or the art is supporting the music. Certainly the type of art-minded noise-wave record that those who don’t get will never get, but those who do will immediately enjoy.

Dan Webb & The Spiders Be Alright LP (Gunner)
Straight up, I’ll admit my prejudice against band names that follow the Regular Dude’s Full Name & The Something-Or-Others convention – it’s just a little too Hard Rock Cafe for my personal tastes. I know it’s unfair that Dan Webb’s gotta climb out of the pit I’ve already dug for him before I hear a single note of his music, but what do you know, I like Be Alright! It’s pretty plain, easy-going garage-based indie-rock, but I have to hand it to them, Webb and crew do a fine job within those guidelines. It verges on pop-punk without being too childish, simple songs sung simply and uninterested in being anything they’re not, falling somewhere between Spoon and The Smoking Popes. They’re the sort of band that could’ve secured a Lookout! Records contract toward the tail-end of that label’s existence, when things got a little slicker but still retained that pop-punk heart. A little smoother than Dillinger Four and The Marked Men, but Dan Webb & The Spiders could surely win over some of those group’s open-minded fans, particularly at a well-attended outdoor IPA festival stage. I found it interesting that this is their fifth album, not only because I hadn’t heard of them before, but because five albums is a pretty extended foray into being a poppy underground rock band – I have to wonder if they’re just now getting to the pleasant ease at which they deliver their tunes, or if they’ve always been at this level.

Wolf Müller Meets The Nile Project Wolf Müller Meets The Nile Project 12″ (Nouvelle Ambiance)
Percussionist, DJ and producer Wolf Müller looked beyond the confines of his native Germany for this new collaborative EP with The Nile Project, a collective of Kenyan and Egyptian musicians. Müller met them on their turf, recording these tracks in Aswan, Egypt with Kasiva Mutua, Adel Mekha and Rapasa Nyatrapasa Otieno on “hang drum” as well as guitar and other native percussive instruments. I’m assuming Müller sat back, admiring the scene, and then lightly edited the recordings for a more techno-minded audience, as his production here is light and unobtrusive. “Mabomba Dance” is the fourteen-minute sprawling groove, and there are three shorter pieces on the flip, my favorite being “Moso Radido Wuod Ndege (Nyatiti)” with its sparse rhythm, squeaky Jew’s harp and Otieno’s assured vocal. It sounds like a dance party without any of the normal dance party necessities (bass, mids, a powerful kick), playful and strikingly minimal to be sure. Wolf Müller Meets The Nile Project is a radiant success, if mostly because The Nile Project have provided a wealth of musical talent and Wolf Müller was wise enough to leave only the lightest of his fingerprints on the proceedings.