Author: Steve Richardson

What Moon Things
Hot Grits Records
Street: 06.03
What Moon Things = Moneen + Desaparecidos + Evangelicals
With a sound perfect for supporting Saves The Day, What Moon Things may have come a little late for me. It’s not that they can’t pull the emo thing off—the songs get stuck in my head with a wave of melancholy like dark, Northwestern cloud cover. The sun (or maybe a more uptempo, rage filled metaphor) begins to shine through for me with the third track, “Doesn’t Make Much Sense.” The song opens with a muddy drumbeat, heavy bass and thin vocals, creating a moshy mood. Then, halfway through, the song slows down, returning to the same state of depression that Conor Oberst evokes so well. –Steve Richardson


Pop. 1280
Imps of Perversion
Sacred Bones
Street: 08.06
Pop. 1280 = Mayyors + Ex Models + Mission of Burma
The deceptive opening guitar chord of Imps of Perversion hints at another surf album, with its thin echo lingering as a tribal beat backs the chord’s decay. The crunchy bass, synchronized with simple double-time picking on the guitar, cuts in and knocks the surf sound off its board within seconds. The drums hang around the bonfire drumcircle throughout the album, while playing staggered beats like a 45 of The Locust played at 33 rpm. Without much change in rhythm, the use of robotic vocal effects and backing power-drill sounds distinguish “Population Control” from any other track. The vocals come half-spoken like Jello Biafra for the entirety of Imps of Perversion, but really emerge in the verses of “Nailhouse” through lines like, “They blow ‘em up with land mines.” It’s refreshing to avoid the flesh-searing positivity of the beach sun, even with the landmines. ­–Steve Richardson

Midnight Oil

Essential Oils

Sony Music

Street: 04.30

Midnight Oil = Richard Hell and the Voidoids + The Saints + Thompson Twins

Similar to The Essential Clash, although with better pun usage, Essential Oils’ double-disc-load takes you on a tour spanning an entire Midnight Oil lifetime—from second-wave punk through poppy new wave. Disc 1 begins with “Run By Night” and the sound of mildly distorted guitar accompanied by wooden sticks racing to pound 16th notes from the metal hi-hats. By the end, the first disc echoed, electronic thumps replace the drums and synth overpowers the guitar. Slide in Disc 2 and the familiar bass line of “Beds Are Burning” will remind you why Midnight Oil sounded familiar—the feeling may be lost by Track 18. A friend once told me he didn’t like anthologies because you miss out on so many songs. Due to the inclusion of “Beds Are Burning,” I don’t feel I missed anything. –Steve Richardson

Naomi Punk

Television Man

Captured Tracks

Street: 08.05

Naomi Punk = Slow Animal + Nü Sensae + Weed

If you can find a way to play Television Man with the same relative speed increase you get when you change from 33 to 45 rpm, but without the pitch distortion, you might hear a pretty kick-ass punk album. Naomi Punk know how to write songs, and they’ve found the right voice for their sound. They even know how to incorporate ancient electronic tom beats, as their instrumental “Plastic World No. 6”—which would fit in a high-energy Twin Peaks scene—proves. The whole album just feels a little sluggish to me, though. Maybe I just need to lay off the caffeine. –Steve Richardson
Captured Tracks
Street: 09.03
Holograms = Iceage + The Vicious + Metz
Forever uses the upbeat power of nearly unbroken speed to avoid any clashes with boredom while finding identity through unique vocals. The vocals’ flavor lies where the over-masculine punk chants of Criminal Damage meet the melodic cries of The Cure. The second track, “Flesh and Bone,” drops the drums but not the speed for a phased guitar and vocal intro that breaks into one of the album’s catchiest choruses. “Attestupa” stands above the other tracks due to the synth in its chorus—a common tone scattered through Forever—that complements the repeated line, “I’m so tired,” with ear-tingling smoothness. –Steve Richardson

Royal Trux

3-Song EP

Drag City

Street: 06.18 

Royal Trux = Glass Candy And The Shattered Theatre + Psychedelic Horseshit + (Bad Brains – Black Flag)

The utilitarian title of 3-Song EP (originally released in 1998) contains no lies and no lollygagging. The EP contains 3 songs. “Deafer Than Blind,” the minimalistic first third of the EP, begins with a slow, heavily reverberated drumbeat that remains steady to the end of the song. Neil Hagerty sings over repeated chants of, “Now I’m deafer than blind,” while Jennifer Herrema occasionally echoes his words over a layer of Hagerty’s lightning finger picking on an undistorted guitar. Nothing stays constant in the lengthy second track, “The United States vs One 1974 Cadillac El Dorado Sedan,” except the farting bass. The song shifts from one segment to the next like a jam session or medley. 3-Song EP concludes with a cover of Richie Haven’s “Run, Shaker Life.” After 13 weird minutes of Hagerty and Herrema singing and screaming back and fourth between broken guitar solos and syncopated drums, I want more. –Steve Richardson


More Than Any Other Day


Street: 04.29

Ought = Talking Heads + Parquet Courts

The voice of Tim Beeler, vocals, sticks out more than any other aspect of the band’s sound. From the moment Beeler begins howling—about a minute into the first track, “Pleasant Heart”—I could hear something familiar. It wasn’t until the tempo began to speed up halfway through “Today, More Than Any Other Day,” where the bright-toned guitar started sounding like something from Television’s Marquee Moon, that I realized Beeler’s vocals fall in a pleasing region between Tom Verlaine and David Byrne—maybe Byrne-heavy in the chorus of “Habit.” The tempo varies throughout the album, sometimes within a single track. Many groups can’t handle a tempo change without an aesthetic change, but More Than Any Other Day keeps the sound of Ought distinct and satisfying in all speeds. –Steve Richardson
Second Impulse
Army of Bad Luck Records
Street: 10.08
Carnivores = Black Lips + Young Governor + Smith Westerns

A drumbeat just shy of lo-fi, a thin, spineless guitar with a tone so frail and twangy it feels cute (which is not a bad thing) and a 60s-sounding synth unite Second Impulse despite the vocalists switching from one track to the next. Energy seeps from every song, but “Sinking in Your Automobile” calls me back for more and more, reminiscent of a house party with The Growlers. The vocals in the choruses slide between rough almost-monotone chants and falsetto sustains with smooth melodic shifts, and I get lost in the daze of the mixed noises behind the soloing guitar and keyboard in the instrumental segments. –Steve Richardson 


Mom + Pop
Street: 01.22
Fidlar = Metz + Unnatural Helpers + Black Lips
In the songs of Fidlar, with titles including “Cheap Beer” and “Wake Bake Skate,” and lyrics like, “I drink cheap beer so what fuck you,” the subject matter reminds me of a less trashy take on The Trashies.  The perceived touch of class could come from the melodies added to the chanted vocals, or the way Fidlar sounds like they have some experience with their instruments, even scattering a few semi-complicated guitar solos throughout.  Regardless of the album’s lyrical theme, Fidlar has a clean sound with minimal distortion anywhere other than the guitar making the album far from lo-fi. Fidlar sound like they might save their debauchery for the weekends, but like the rich kids who choose to live in filth, they’re still a good time. –Steve Richardson

Street: 08.04
Mañanero = Tom Waits + Iggy Pop + Blessure Grave

I like lo-fi, but you might want to listen to this album on some high-quality speakers. In my car’s weak sound system, I was ready to give up on Mañanero, but at home, I had much less trouble making it through the album. The audio peaks and crackles throughout the simplistic songs, which consist of low, growling vocals with repetitive guitar and the occasional sample. Mañanero feels experimental at times, like in track seven, “Alligator,” which is just rough falsetto vocals hovering over a looped sample of James Brown singing the word “Alligator.” I can handle Mañanero a few tracks at a time or if I’m in the right mood, but it’s not easy listening. –Steve Richardson