Killing Joke Hosannas from the Basements of Hell (Cooking Vinyl)
So how do you rock so hard that 25 years and nearly as many releases later, you're still relevant? Ask Jaz Coleman, singer and keyboardist for Killing Joke, whose throaty cries atop churning guitars and tribal drums have spurred all the big names in rock over the last couple of decades. This CD, at its heart, is what's good about post-punk industrial rock: grinding riffs, bruising beats, forceful propulsion—in short, carefully managed chaos. Though some of the tracks are more miss than hit, those that do make contact are solid as granite and certainly worth your cash.
Adrian Belew Side Three (Sanctuary Records)
He says Side Three is leftovers. I'm having a hard time getting past this. These are your leftovers? These babies, these funky gems, these lighthearted experiments, are your leftovers? I hate people like Belew (of King Crimson fame) whose scraps are more imaginative than some folks' brainfeasts. It's certainly still pop, but the third part of Belew's trilogy concept invokes DJ-like tendencies for good effect. Loops layered on live instruments underscore gentle folk-style vocal work. If anything, certain flights of fancy are on the long side. Some might even call them indulgent. Maybe that's what it takes to get high-quality “scraps.”
Half-Handed Cloud Halos and Lassos (Asthmatic Kitty Records)
This disc seems like a really good idea for the first 15 minutes. Quirky production, a little cheerful voice, '60s songwriting, really short songs, silly kiddy keyboard effects, acoustic guitar and thoughts on God ... it's great, until it wiggles free the linchpin of your sanity. After those first few songs, the lack of irony, the complete, unceasing purity chips away at the wounded cynic in you. And not in that cute Napoleon Dynamite way. It will be interesting to see these guys perform tracks such as “Rainbow=Warbow” at Harlow's on Wednesday, April 26. We'll see if I've uncurled from a fetal position by then.