Author: Alexander Ortega

True Widow
Relapse Records
Street: 07.23
True Widow = Codeine + Marriages
Compared to As High As the Highest Heavens and from the Center of the Circumference of the Earth, Circumambulation proceeds with sparser guitar and deliberate bass, beginning the slow burner as such with “Creeper.” Guitarist/vocalist Dan Phillips supplies higher vocal melodies, complementing the bass-heavy “S:H:S” to build this album; “Four Teeth” massages the atmosphere as bassist Nicole Estill’s milk-and-honey voice saturates with droning, prolonged syllables matched with occasional accompaniment from Phillips in mutual jouissance as the guitar flashes unselfishly. Once “Numb Hand” ensues, it’s clear that this iteration of True Widow’s “stonegaze” wants to bubble with magmatic volatility, or buckle and creak despite Estill’s even-keeled singing of “Carry on” … in “Trollstigen.” “I:M:O” is a euphonious, instrumental treat, and “HW:R” and “LUNGR” weave distinct melodies—sunny and ominous, respectively—to conclude the album with a gorgeous coronation. Circumambulation is a pilgrimage around your internal shrine—one I superlatively suggest taking. –Alexander Ortega
Malportado Kids 
Total Cultura 
Dead Labour 
Street: 06.02 
Malportado Kids = (Fea / Piñata Protest) x (Le Tigre√Bikini Kill)
I’m sure that living in the white-majority state of Rhode Island lends to much frustration for Chican@s there, and Total Cultura delivers it in spades—but with a dance-y, norteño-esque electronic compulsion. Frontwoman Victoria Ruiz channels riotgrrrl with a “pocha” lens in opener “Soy La Pocha,” in which she asserts her chicanidad atop a four-on-the-floor beat riddled with a devil-may-care, digital cumbia instrumentation. Ruiz shouts unapologetically with a screech similar to Kathleen Hanna’s early work, which works well with the hype that she and Joey La Neve DeFrancesco’s lo-fi production impart to each track. Standouts are “Bruja Cosmica” with its strident beeps and “Chingona” with its rhythmic bass. At times, the melodies and digital-instrument timbres make Total Cultura feel a bit circus-like, but it aurally complicates the album with culturally intersected vibes in an interesting manner. More than anything, Total Cultura is a fun, subversive dance-punk album that comes from a Chican@-centric core. –Alexander Ortega
Cornered By Zombies

Hurry Up and Wait


Street: 11.16.13

Cornered By Zombies = [(The Fucking Champs + At The Gates) – vocals – bass guitar] + Kill ‘Em All–era Metallica

Finally. Baz Eisenman and Jason Denney are a metal duo of prodigies whose musicianship eats away at your insides, simultaneously vicious and wistful. Eisenman makes his skill known from the get-go in “Survival of the fittest, And we’re out of Shape.” exhibiting his axe prowess à la melodic death metal guitar technique. His melodies are the most emotive in “Derek Joined the Air Force,” where his hammer-on, pull-off guitar navigation infests his pedal-tone, rhythmic compositions. Also: Denney is a machine. In “Simon Says,” he deftly transfers from snare-to-kick beats and double-kick trills to solidify the song’s trajectory—don’t get me started on his blast beats. His rolls in “It Was Like That When I Got Here” add contour to this record, and the duo’s synergy in “Will you take the Rusty Axe?” is astounding. This is fucking art. CBZ, quit your jobs and tour. –Alexander Ortega

Have A Nice Life
The Unnatural World
The Flenser
Street: 02.04
Have A Nice Life = A Place To Bury Strangers x True Widow x Phil Collins
I’ve never been in a sensory deprivation chamber before, but The Unnatural World renders an audial consciousness for me similar to how I imagine that complete darkness—except for Have A Nice Life flash wet, silver lights of sound. Opener “Guggenheim Wax Museum” ekes in at around 67 BPM with an electronic wash of sludgy synths and effects-laden guitar that build in frequency atop a robotic e-beat. It picks up with tracks like “Defenstration Song” and “Unholy Life,” which drive with a merciless yet upbeat, coldwave pep—pop in the age of Blade Runner. Other songs comb relentlessly depressive plains—“Emptiness Will Eat The Witch” closes the record with funereal remorse wherein the pent-up noise finally dissipates to a guitar etude. “Burial Society” anchors the record with a sludge-pop song, punctuating an album that is an amalgam of genres and tells a story, though the words are mired between thick sonic walls, sticky with reverb, as they croon with a sorrowful candor. “Music Will Unntune The Sky” (Track 4) is an apt theme for this record. Get this. –Alexander Ortega