Review: Killer Be Killed – “Reluctant Hero”

Expectations suck. So, leave it to an alt-metal supergroup to find a way to fuck with what you crave and anticipate from its latest mighty work. Six years after its much-lauded self-titled debut, the apocalyptic Killer Be Killed is back with Reluctant Hero, a sophomore effort initiated, written and recorded almost entirely in secrecy. In an…

Review: The Nels Cline Singers – “Share The Wealth”

The acoustic guitar, in somewhat off-tempo 4/4, nestles a saxophone that pensively wails. In the distance, the jingle-jangle of incidental percussion provide a kind of sonic frame, the measures kept tidy and within their respective places. And, about two minutes in, the finger-picked acoustic shuffle of a verse demurs and listeners are greeted by jazzy,…

Review: The Casket Lottery – “Short Songs for End Times”

At 6:27, the album-closing “Sad Dream” is by far the longest, most ambitious and most uncharacteristic song on Short Songs for End Times, the second post-hiatus full-length LP from early-aughts Kansas City punk/emo outfit The Casket Lottery. It starts with swirling synths and unfurls with more than its share of Cracker Jack distorted guitars. The real gems,…

Review: David Grubbs – “October 19, 2017”

6 April 2020, “The Quarantine Concerts”: This is the first time I remember hearing David Grubbs like this, and I was unmoored by the presentation and the humble kind of luminosity to it all. Grubbs doesn’t break his poker face or fully tip his hand and foreshadow the content of the proceedings that night. But the video…

Review: Mr. Bungle – “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”

Talk about being locked and loaded with enough context and rotting fruit to fill a stadium. The core members of once- (and future-?) postmodern superheroes Mr. Bungle – that’s Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn – have reunited 21 years after the group’s last LP to reproduce via Patton’s Ipecac Recordings their interesting but…

Review: Bad Wires – “Politics of Attraction”

Politics of Attraction, the full-length debut from Louisville power trio Bad Wires, is a Frankenstein’s monster of a rock record. The group, technically adept but still engaging in guttural and primal ways, are well-studied pupils and make the proceeds unfurl easily. The LP’s seven tracks offer punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise posturing, a touch…

Review: Kronos Quartet – “Long Time Passing”

Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger might seem, on the surface of things, like a noble attempt to celebrate or further canonize a legendary American folk artist. And, to some extent, yes, it is that; and, not to minimize, it’s also a wonderfully arranged and wonderfully performed LP, as good as anything…

Review: El Ten Eleven – “Tautology III”

A kick-drum in the shape of a heartbeat appears some seven minutes into El Ten Eleven’s Tautology III, the final piece of its ambitious instrumental, arc-of-life suite on Joyful Noise. What’s odd – and oddly special – about the third installment, however, is how it does not dwell in the chambers or details of life and…

Review: Landowner – “Consultant”

Landowner‘s second LP, Consultant, is a beautiful bundle of chewed-raw nerves, with intensely geometric post-punk motifs providing the razor to scrape back and forth over them. Vocalist Dan Shaw fronts the western Massachusetts quintet, bizarrely obsessed with cleanliness, mechanics, and symmetry, but instead blurts out lyrics about residential development, institutional racism, and testosterone-fueled idiocy like an…

Review: Exhalants – “Atonement”

This year has become a Groundhogs Day of Nightly News shitshows in much of the Western world, but 2020 (we’ll give it this much) has been at least a little rewarding for fans of good ol’ aggressive noise-rock. Now, just a couple months after Pittsburgh’s TRVSS offered up a venomous sophomore LP, Exhalants is doing…