Alibi V.21 No.42 • Oct 18-24, 2012 

Sonic Reducer

Released three days before the end of summer, Tucker’s second album is the perfect soundtrack for that wind-down to brisk autumn days—chock full of rolling drums, belted harmonies and woo-hoos. Her first outing, 1,000 Years, was a much softer affair, with her trademark yowl taking a backseat in favor of a gentle keening. Here, Tucker’s powerhouse spinto soprano is on fine display in almost every poppy, rambunctious tune. Be sure to check out the video for “Neskowin,” a semi-autobiographical tune about teenage rebellion in which Tucker plays her own mother and a hippie in a VW van, and pays tribute to Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. (M. Brianna Stallings)

The Mountain Goats Transcendental Youth (Merge Records)

On the Mountain Goats’ latest album, subjects of the 12 songs are either happily, defiantly damaged (“Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1” and “Counterfeit Florida Plates”) or simply resigned to the fact that “damage” is synonymous with “reality” (“Night Light”). With lyrics like, “The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you're never going to see again” and a jaunty rhythm, “Harlem Roulette” is nihilism you can clap to. Mountain Goats’ main man John Darnielle has a nasal, wobbly legged warble—an acquired taste, to be sure, but one worth acquiring. Few artists can make suffering sound so inviting. (M. Brianna Stallings)

BRANES Perfection Condition (Burger Records)

Named after cosmology and particle physics theories, Los Angeles-based maximal synth duo BRANES have copious gray matter and a superlative, hyper-poppy sound. Their debut album encourages listeners to simultaneously embrace cybergoth, Dadaism and transhumanism. Front woman Ivy’s vocals are an amalgam of Lene Lovich and Siouxsie Sioux. Keyboardist Susan Subtract's background in mutant punk and his massive synth tower set the stage for rampaging, resonant beats. Standout tracks include the non-lexical vocable-infused “CGI, E-mail Order Bride” and multiverse-chomping confessional anthem “Microwave On.” The album is available for digital download on Bandcamp. Pre-orders of extremely limited-press cobalt vinyl can be made through Burger Records. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)