Author: Alexander Ortega

Salt Lake Spitfires
Chaos Baby EP
Street: 08.03.12
Salt Lake Spitfires = Metallica – metal + The Dead Boys + Tough Tittie
Salt Lake Spitfires aptly synthesize thrash guitars and mid-tempo punk rock right off the bat with “Mountain” in the Chaos Baby EP, and pin down exactly what it would be like at a rock n’ roll show in the ’70s. The Spitfires succeed in varying their songs yet retaining their own sonic signature: “Shiny Things” bounces with staccato guitar notes akin to Thunderfist, and “Release the Dopamine” starts with a deep-voiced monster that sounds like a Jabba the Hutt version of the voice in Bad Religion’s “Delirium of Disorder,” and then builds into a dance beat and a Ramones quote, “Guess I better tell ’em/I ain’t got no cerebellum.” “Sick Puppy” calls to mind the wistful guitar work of Blue Öyster Cult as the late Michael E. Cline croons like Stiv Bators. The title-track closer ensconces catchy guitar work and just the right touch of grime in Cline’s vocals. I’m sad I never got to see Cline perform, but I’m excited to see the Spitfires in their new incarnation!


You’re Nothing
Street: 02.09
Iceage = The Middle Class + (No Age – wimps) + Hüsker Dü
Like dying in a dream or Francis Bacon’s paintings, Iceage have delivered a bittersweet roller-coaster stomach lurch with their sophomore release, which drives forward in a disjointed dance with opener “Ecstasy.” Compared to debut New Brigade, Iceage still speed up at a moment’s notice, but the album is more janky—“Coalition” builds then breaks with drum fills and cymbal strikes amid guitars that move with a finger to diatonic scales. The creepy “Interlude” exhibits unsettling rolls, allowing the subsequent, drone-y “Burning Hand” to spurt like magma. The album offers interesting points insomuch that I was willing to invest my attention and be engulfed by the harrowing reverb and and wash of overtones; “Everything Drifts” teases the ear with guitar melody as it pleases before the hi-hat and Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s hollow groans take over. With tracks like “Rodfæstet” that balance out the release with straightforward hardcore and blurring guitars, You’re Nothing has captured my interest a hundredfold. –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