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RATING: 8.9/10 – TOP TRASH

Swedish punk sung in French reviewed by an American writer. Globalization’s nuts. I know maybe 10 words in French, so I’ve no clue what they’re singing about, but it’s fast, it’s catchy, and it’ll get you moving. The band makes use of keytar, giving them a really strong LOST SOUNDS vibe, but it’s not used as a gimmick or a LOOK AT US – it’s just another instrument, put to excellent use on tracks like “Remords,” shooting the track through with some awesome squiggly Atari vibes. The song instantly burrows into your skull, even if you haven’t got the faintest clue what it might be about. This 84 second rager is over before you blink, but this veers into the utterly inexplainable “Le Voleur de Chaleur.” This track opens with a minute-long ye-ye detour – FRANCOISE HARDY vibes abounding, before dropping into a wasteland of fuzz as the party is suddenly crashed by ripping hardcore. Next comes “Le Vague Noire,” a mid-tempo song adorned by spoken vocals. The Game Boy sonic aesthetic works here really well. The keytar is immediately recognizable and adds to the music, but also shares space with the guitar on tracks like “Questions.”

The point is: Keytars aren’t a novelty here. It’s used to the same efficacy as any other instrument, and all 6 songs on this are winners. This isn’t being put out by any label yet, but it ought to be.

LISTEN: Cikatri$ Bandcamp

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RATING: 8.5/10 – TOP TRASH

Hey guys, how ya doin? It’s been a while…things come up, I’ll do better. I guess I’ve also been listening to a lot of older stuff recently, so you don’t always get around to new stuff. Anyway, the new stuff I have been digging pretty hard is this fearsome threesome from Atlanta. Blood Bleeds is a wild, 11-track slab of rock-and-roll, shot through with a bitter vein of creeping tension. Opener “Red Eye” slithers along with a bass-driven groove, until it all suddenly explodes in buzzsaw guitars – the intensity is only ratcheted up further with successive tracks. The whole affair feels like the ROYAL BATHS LP that we liked so much earlier this year, but if it had been written and record after each member put down a bottle of rotgut whiskey.

“Hell Ride” is a more upbeat track in position 4, the bouncing bluesy vibe giving it a GUN CLUB feel which is not only entirely appropriate, but entirely ass-kicking. Or entirely awesome. Fuck. The vocals are strung-out, but also seem like they’re about one minute away from losing their shit, Alan Vega style – see exhibit 1, minute-long creep-out interlude “In My Bones”, which falls right into the churn of “Radiation Lady.” If I had to find something to take issue with on this album, it’s really only the vocal sound – I feel like these guys pen some interesting lines, but I wish I could hear them a little clearer. But don’t let that make you think I don’t really like this album – when you churn out tracks like the heroic builder “Gravity,” or the out-of-nowhere stomper “Stone Girl” you can do whatever you want. Got-damn! This is good. Buy it.

LISTEN: Vincas Bandcamp

BUY: Douchemaster Records

 RATING: 9.6/10 – TOP TRASH

Well folks, it’s finally here. The record I’ve been foaming at the mouth for since the start of 2012 is finally here, and it’s really good. KT has turned in a masterpiece – forty minutes of glam garage pop trash bubblegum glory. I won’t waste time thinking of other bands this sounds like, or trying to build an ‘angle’ for this review…all you need to know is that King Tuff is one of the last real rockers left, and you are a fucking fool if you don’t buy this.

 Things kick off with “Anthem,” a brash, swaggering tune, with some glorious guitar work – normally anything with the word “anthem” (national, rock, trance) is enough to make me pitch the disc in the garbage, but this is worthy of the title. This is far heavier than anything on “Was Dead,” but at the same time, it’s even sweeter – this album’s got hooks out the ass…for serious. This leads into “Alone and Stoned,” a paean to blazed headphone sessions (this album will sound amazing in such a state, by the way). The track’s a bouncey, peppy little number, like most of the ones on here – it’s a rare rock record that actually feels appropriate to dance to anymore. Suppose you see this guy live, and someone’s standing against the wall with arms folded – go kick him in the shin, because he’s doing it wrong. You could say any of these songs sound like T-REX, I guess, especially “Loser’s Wall,” but there’s something greater than Bolan’s sexy come-ons; there’s a sense of goofiness in tracks like “Keep on Movin” and an energy on ones like “Stranger” that makes this one of the most exciting releases I’ve heard in a long time. Not only is every track memorable, they’re all pretty different, but always King Tuff. They’re great as individual parts, but even better as a whole.

The best moments on this record are the ones where everything just blows up – the chorus of early release “Bad Thing” and the end of “Stupid Superstar,” but there’s no shortage of ‘moments’ here. It’s a record full of idiosyncrasies, and the philistines will think he “sounds weird,” but that’s really what makes this record so great – Tuffy’s vox do sound weird sometimes, but it’s up-front and forces you to deal with it. There’s no ironic co-opting or lazy ‘lo-fi’ apathy slacker rock bullshit – here, the sound is genuine rock; he gives enough of a shit to play his guitar well, which in itself puts him above 80% of active bands, and then the tunes…goddamn, these tunes are huge. It’s on Sub Pop, which may make the s00per underground types bristle, but it’s a good thing – this record will be far more available, and it fucking deserves it. I’m done gushing. Buy this now.

LISTEN: Sub Pop Soundcloud

BUY: Sub Pop records

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RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

Wax Idols is a good band that has the potential to be great. This is something that seems to get lost in discussions of Hether Fortune, sadly, because in building narratives around bands like all good blogs do, it’s easy to simply put up huge arrows around the fact that she’s female! and! she’s! in! a! rock! band! It’s great to see that there’s strong female voices in a scene that’s definitely dominated by male frontmen, but let’s just bracket that issue for a minute and focus on the fact that this is a really fucking good single. It delivers on the promise of the “All Too Human” 7″ and the “No Future” LP, which was a really strong offering from 2011 – keeping the solid pop hooks, while intensifying the delivery and moving more towards a specifically Wax Idols sound.

The A-side “Schadenfreude” opens with the same note “All Too Human” did, but instead of the sunny-pop feel of that track, this announces itself with a gothy, minor shift. It’s dark, but no less of an earworm – the layered vocals on the chorus are worthy of the SISTERS OF MERCY at their best. It really seems like the lyrics are influenced by Fortune’s side gig as a dominatrix; it’s a great angle, and the song is too short. The B-side is much in the same vein, with some amazing guitar work – shimmering, echoing, spacey sounds recalling JOY DIVISION or “Meat is Murder” SMITHS in a way, but instead of Morrissey’s endless self-pity, Fortune’s all barely-concealed venom beneath an icy-cool surface. Male, female, whatever – gender is irrelevant when you’re turning out tunes of this caliber. Let’s hope there’s more where this came from.

LISTEN: Suicide Squeeze Soundcloud

BUY: Permanent Records still has some, but they’re going fast.

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RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

It can be disheartening, sifting through release after release of 3rd-rate Black Lips ripoffs – all scuzzy vocals and tinny trebled guitar; not that this is categorically intolerable (though it’s not always good), but that some of these poor little punkers forget that there’s a whole other side to the tone knob. Fortunately, we’ve got bands like San Francisco’s Buffalo Tooth, who bring out the bass like Karl Rove in the Bible Belt. The band offers up this bandcamp 7″, and for the love of god, someone should put this out on wax. It’s an analog wet dream – booming, lurching groove rock. This is the kind of shit that demands a sweaty, beer-soaked basement when played live. “Only Son” is a ferocious rumbler of a track, featuring drums carrying a groove the size of the Mississippi, which bounces and surges all at once, noodly fuzzed out guitar and rock-solid bass keeping the whole thing moving – BLUE CHEER, DEEP PURPLE – all your favorite color-band comparisons are welcome (Editor’s note: not Green Day). “Head Trip’s” ‘got a hold on you,’ and by ‘you’ he means ‘your face’, which he then melts with torrential blues lickery and howling vocals. It’s positively funky – putting the ‘roll’ back in ‘rock’n’roll.’ It’s slower, but no less energetic – dare I say ZEPPELIN-esque? I think I do. Point is, Buffalo Tooth have made a big splash with two slabs of no-genre-bullshit-attached rock – expect good things to come.

LISTEN/FREE DOWNLOAD: Bandcamp

BUY: the record label on facebook is ‘???.’ this is a grave injustice.

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RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

I’ll start by saying the Brian Jonestown Massacre are one of my favorite bands, so I may need to wipe the drool off my face at points. They’re one of the rare bands who manage to operate the way John Peel described The Fall: “always different, always the same.” Though ringleader Anton Newcombe dons and tosses musical hats at will – now droning shoegazers, now sneering British Invaders – they always manage to be instantly recognizable. “Aufheben,” though distinct from rockier past efforts, isn’t a kaleidoscopic tour of everything the way “Who Killed Sgt. Pepper” was. The album hones in, laser-like, on a stoned Eastern drone-rock sound; all triple-layered vocals as on “Seven Kinds of Wonderful,” and BJM’s celebrated penchant for sitar as on “Face Down on the Moon,” but this buzzing electric haze is paired with a Krautrock-y rhythm section, sharp drums and a strong focus on beat drive “Illuminomi” and “Vilholliseni Maalla.”

Overall, this record follows the pattern laid down by 2008 effort “My Bloody Underground.” Though often maligned, that album worked for its success in establishing mood – this album works (better than its stylistic father) because of its insistent focus on groove. This is a double-edged sword, though: when it works, it really fucking works – tracks like “Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe” can hang with the band’s absolute best, but the propensity for jams sometimes leads the band into tracks like the opener, which spins its wheels for 4 minutes without really doing much. It’s a minority occurrence, for sure. Though some tracks can feel empty initially (Anton seems to be minimizing his presence here – vocals are subdued or obscured, if present at all), overall “Aufheben” just seems to be more focused than any other Jonestown album on sheer soundscape (for evidence, see the opening to “Blue Order/New Monday”), rather than ‘rock’ or ‘lyrics’, and so this is unquestionably an album that demands several plays and attentive listening before it unfolds its secret psychedelic jam mojo – I confess I needed three plays before the torrent of technicolor headfuckery inside this record came pouring out.

“Aufheben” appears to me to be the mark of veteran musicians, masters of their craft, yet thankfully slaving hard to push their sound forward. Jonestown are utterly their own band at this point. This record, a subtle, sonically rich tab of pure LSD merely posing as a new album, sounds like nothing else that will be released this year. 13 albums in, BJM show no signs of slowing down.

LISTEN: http://soundcloud.com/cargorecords/sets/bjm/s-jo7fb

BUY: Widely available; try google.

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RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

Well folks, it’s finally here. After “Cement Tomb Mind Control,” one of the best albums of last year, Midwest favorites The Hussy are back – and not only do they avoid the sophomore slump, they’ll probably end up as one of the best albums of THIS year, too. The LP is 14 tracks of fire, whittled down from 35. They’ve moved into some territory that’s definitely a little more psychedelic, away from the more straight forward garage-punk sound of Cement Tomb. The thrashing, surging crash is still there, especially on tracks like “SFB,” but the record opens up in a more subdued tone, with the grinding “Undefined,” which cruises along on a slow, steady beat and a guitar line which really reminds me of punk weirdos WHATEVER BRAINS, who put out one of the other best albums of last year.

The Hussy have expanded their musical palette in a really great way for this one.  Though the basic elements are still there, they’re deployed in what sounds like a far more careful, artistic way, in contrast to the 500 miles an hour whirl of CTMC. There’s a really strong influence of THEE OH SEES, especially on tracks like “Feeling Dry” which could fit in comfortably on any of that band’s 12 billion releases. There’s a whole lot going on here, and it really does demand a few listens to get a sense of it all.

The record is mostly split between two types of songs: white-hot, stomping Bobby-led guitar workouts, and shuffling, catchy Heather-led songs. Both are great, but they come together on “I Don’t Really Want To,” which is without doubt the standout track here – a 1:27 minute rager which channels “Heavy Days” era JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD in a fucking incredible way. I have but one complaint about this song, which extends to the rest of the record: the songs on here are so short, they seem underdeveloped at times – there’s so many great things going on, I really wish the band had given them a chance to develop. But that’s like complaining about needing to find a parking space after being given a free Maserati or something.

Calling any moment a highlight is difficult, though – the Hussy are firing on all cylinders here. “Dog Said Yeah” is a good example of their whole game – not punk, not garage, it’s straight-up rock and roll. This one goes into the tense, yet appropriately named “Harsh My High,” which reveals another strand of Weed Seizure’s DNA: the BUTTHOLE SURFERS. The playing on this record is really, really tight, man, but it’s not without it’s loose moments, like album closer “The Moon Rules #1,” a seriously slow, stoned noisy jam which reminds me of No Age, except it’s not boring.

It’s hard to summarize this record – all the bands I’ve namechecked are reference points, but the Hussy are mostly in their own galaxy at this point. Though there’s elements of different sounds here, The Hussy are a great up-and-coming band who capture very well the sonic landscape of modern garage/punk/whatever, but succeed very well in creating a record that’s utterly their own. Seriously, buy this now, or pay out the nose for it later – this won’t be leaving anybody’s collection any time soon.

LISTEN: http://thehussy.bandcamp.com/

BUY at Tic Tac Totally

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