By M. Brianna Stallings
Callinan has that post-industrial lounge singer voice: a hybrid of Andrew Eldritch, Bryan Ferry and Nick Cave. The album title comes from an anti-racism campaign in Callinan’s native Australia. Given his antics—he once used strobe lights at a concert in the hope, he claimed, of inducing seizures—it can be difficult to know if it’s sincere. Callinan’s shifts from dissonant to melodious are disorienting; I suspect that’s intentional. The title track is a scathing assessment of masculinity, while “Come On USA” responds to the exportation of American culture. “Victoria M.,” “Scraps” and “Chardonnay Sean” are radiant piano- and guitar-driven shoegaze. “Stretch It Out” shifts back to glitchy noise.
I love David Lynch as much as the next aging spookster. Having said that, Lynch’s The Big Dream was approached with apprehension. To me his first release, Crazy Clown Time, was hellacious. Luckily The Big Dream, while not revolutionary, is more tolerable. Ever heard Lynch speak? Imagine that but tweaked with helium, then backed by reverb-laden guitar lines; that’s his music. "Sun Can't Be Seen No More" is gutbucket blues rock, with Lynch’s voice stretching like Silly Putty. Music nerd blasphemy notwithstanding, Lynch’s harrowing version of “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” is more enjoyable than the nasal Dylan original. "Wishing Well" and “I Want You” are tidy trip-hop apéritifs. Still, the only reason anyone listens is because it’s Lynch being Lynch.
Is it lame to claim a noise duo often described as “indie” (yawn) hearkens back to ’90s goth industrial music? Eh, who cares? Those grinding, darkly atmospheric rhythms and nihilistic attitudes permeate Stills, the latest album from Denver's Gauntlet Hair. A luscious guttural loop kicks off "Human Nature.” “G.I.D.” smacks of Year Zero-era Nine Inch Nails but feels less cold, while “Waste Your Art” is a 21st century answer to “The Days Of Swine & Roses” by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Stills has a danker sound than their eponymous debut. Then again members Craig Nice and Andy Rauworth have been getting loud together since high school, so perhaps their well-worn familiarity is a little sludgy.
Jill Cohn • indie, singer-