Alibi V.22 No.6 • Feb 7-13, 2013 

Sonic Reducer

Jeffree Star pops profane and Hello Kitty-pink. Diamond Rings does pop with Jobriath-like panache. And drag superstar Sharon Needles? Girl, that queen drowns it in a disco bloodbath. That's how RuPaul described Needles' apocalyptic ensemble on an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. Savvy readers might recognize this nod to the original title of James St. James' book (renamed Party Monster), about NYC's notorious Club Kids and their descent into madness. With PG-13, Needles proves her honorary Club Kid status with spooktacular aplomb on 12 songs about Ouija boards, haunted houses, Satan, spandex, Vincent Price and "Poltergeist." The guest list includes RuPaul, Amanda Lepore, Jayne County and Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic. It's auto-tuned to death, and maniacal witchy laughter permeates like cheap perfume. PG-13 has issues, but nobody's perfect, right honey? (M. Brianna Stallings)

Any Britpop fans remember Welsh female-fronted foursome Catatonia? Wonder what they might have sounded like bulked up steroids-style on Lollapalooza-era stadium rock? Well, I'll tell you: The Joy Formidable. On its 2011 single “Whirring,” this trio—also native to Wales—proved it can seamlessly meld earworm, jangle and wall of sound, while skirting the thin line between inflated and overblown. While their latest, Wolf's Law—the name is a double entendre, referencing both laws of nature and the medical theory that bones adapt to loads borne—isn't as rough around the edges as 2011's The Big Roar, it's just as impassioned. Standouts include “Tendons” and “Little Blimp.” The title track is hidden at the end, just after “The Turnaround.” Out of coffee? Put on Wolf's Law. I guarantee this album will wake you the fuck up. (M. Brianna Stallings)

Dark, brooding and uncomfortably numb, Deathlike sloughs off the sophomore slump like so much dead skin and gets right down to business. Ancient VVisdom's brand of death-folk eschews any singer-songwriter preciousness with plodding drum tracks and bowed double bass, and creeptronic synthscapes that make their second effort more fiercely dark than A Godlike Inferno, the Austin, Texas band’s 2011 debut. Boduff Songs-meets-"Bathysphere"-era Smog in the darkest corners of Purgatory. Killer! (Michael Henningsen)