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Comets On Fire, Blue Cathedral

2004 | Label: Sub Pop Records

One of the members of this Santa Cruz psych-rock crew described the Comets on Fire live experience as a "vision quest." Indeed, the band pursues its transcendent ideal of punkified '60s ballroom bluster like Rocky chasing down a chicken. The myriad signifiers of 'we take it to the next level'-ness are all there: A record called Avatar that came out three years before Avatar, echo on everything, a guy who plays electronics named Noel von Harmonson. 2002's Blue Cathedral is their most convincing statement of trippiness. Singer Ethan Miller has… more »

No Age, Nouns

2008 | Label: Sub Pop Records

Part of Sub Pop’s mission is documenting fertile underground-rock scenes, and one of the liveliest of recent years is centered on the L.A. club The Smell. Its house band, more or less, is this arty, chaotic duo. No Age’s music is only a part of their broader package of design and artifact-creation, and like most of the rest of the things they’ve put their name on, it balances accidents and spontaneity with a deliberate, neon-gaudy aesthetic — some of the tracks here are through-composed noise-pop songs, some of them are… more »


2009 | Label: Lovepump United / SC Distribution

Between its glitchy repetitions, frenzied synth rages and impassive vocals, HEALTH's latest has all the symptoms of a mental breakdown. But insanity works for these L.A. noise mongers, who made their name on the barely-tuned barrage of 2007's HEALTH and the assaultive, club-ready Crystal Castles mix that followed. These guys don't write songs so much as conduct sonic onslaughts — they surface at a distance, attack, and disappear into static.

But on Get Color, more so than on HEALTH, those slaughters actually feel like songs — songs with discernible melodies, verses… more »

Sightings, Through the Panama

2007 | Label: Load Records / The Orchard

After several shady, blurry albums of fractured noise rock, New York's Sightings brought Andrew W.K. on board as a producer. The result is a sharp-focus document of the group's ferocious music. Mark Morgan's guitar sounds like shattered glass, and W.K. pushes his talking blues-style spoken/sung vocals further up in the mix than ever before. The rhythm section churns out clattering loops that resemble everything from typewriters to jackhammers. It's often hard to tell who's doing what; this is a power trio in the truest sense of the word.

Tracks like “A… more »