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The Faint, Doom Abuse

2014 | Label: SQE Music / Redeye

For the previous two decades, Omaha’s the Faint has faithfully followed a pattern: Alternate the danceable, catchy album with a noisy, experimental one. Doom Abuse, their sixth LP, offers nothing less than the long-threatened fusion of these two strands: Opener “Hole in the Head” suggests Depeche Mode jamming with the Stooges. It’s the raging, bratty punk/synth-pop fusion you didn’t know you needed from these guys, and it announces immediately that they are back in defiant fighting form.

Abandoning straightforward sociological commentary, singer Todd Fink here instead adopts stream-of-consciousness spewing that reflects… more »

Thee Oh Sees, Drop

2014 | Label: Castle Face / The Orchard

Over the course of six years and a torrent of LPs, EPs, and 7-inches, Thee Oh Sees both embodied the greasy charm of gutbucket garage-rock and demonstrated to other bands in the genre that an adventurous spirit can thrive inside a traditionalist framework. Hotrod ’50s rockabilly, demented psychedelia, super-charged surf, mind-melting Krautrock, ear-shredding noise — all of these styles and more could be heard on TOS’ myriad releases, sometimes working in concert, other times colliding in thrillingly abrasive ways. Thee Oh Sees conveyed this sensibility most profoundly on stage, where… more »

Steve Roach, Structures From Silence (30th anniversary Deluxe Remastered Edition)

2014 | Label: Projekt / Entertainment One Distribution

In the past year, New Age music has begun to escape the lamentable late-’80s stereotypes — Harmonic Convergence, crystals, Kenny G — that have long plagued it. Last fall, Light in the Attic released a stellar compilation called I Am the Center that catalogued small-press New Age releases from the ’50s to the ’70s; Warp records reissued Laaraji; All Saints reissued Harold Budd. Articles popped up in Pitchfork and even in the New York Times.

One name conspicuously missing from this mini-renaissance is the California-born/Arizona-based Steve Roach. Much of… more »

Pharoahe Monch, PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

2014 | Label: W.A.R. Media LLC

After 2011′s thematically scattershot, lyrically inconsistent W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), it would have been sufficient for Pharoahe Monch’s followup PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have been merely solid. Something on the level of, say, 2007′s underrated, heavy-hitting Desire would’ve been plenty. Instead, what we get from Monch is something deeper and more conceptual: a case study in how one allegorically semiautobiographical narrator attempts to overcome his traumatic experiences.

Whether those experiences come from mental health struggles (“Losing My Mind”), drug addiction (“Broken Again”), the dignity-sapping downward spiral of economic uncertainty… more »

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