Sonic Reducer: Raccoon Fighter, Rey Pila and Heartless Bastards
 Alibi V.24 No.27 • July 2-8, 2015 

Sonic Reducer

Raccoon Fighter Spiral Flag EP (Papercup)

Coming off like a brawl between The Beatles' White Album and T. Rex' The Slider, Raccoon Fighter holds their own in an increasingly overpopulated garage rock scene. RF's music is augmented by a well-executed glam component that brightens the corners of this garage/psych band. I love the Ringo-sounding drums, from the muted cymbals to the low-tuned snare, and the vocals reach the same spacey heights (and breathy lows) once occupied by Marc Bolan—without sounding stupid or derivative. That is an accomplishment. In short, this EP manages to pack more than enough surprises into each of the five songs to bear repeated listening without the bottom falling out and the listener writing the whole thing off as another crappy glam-rock beat off session. (Geoff Plant)

Rey Pila The Future Sugar (Ghost Ramp)

The emerging crotchety old codger in me hates this album, with its obvious love of the synth nightmare that was the 1980s; the father in me has to admit he might be missing something of value in Rey Pila's dance party, something that appeals to my kid's generation in the way misinformed children of my day worshipped Woodstock. They've adopted the shitty clothing styles, why not reproduce the cardboard drum sound and keytars of the Reagan years? Folks compare Rey Pila to Roxy Music and The Cars. They do recall the crummier Cars songs, and the singer does sound a bit like Bryan Ferry; however, the music lacks the cool of Ric Ocasek and the ebullience of Roxy Music. No thanks. (Geoff Plant)

Heartless Bastards Restless Ones (Partisan Records)

Whoever says rock is dead clearly hasn't listened to Heartless Bastards. Rock is far from dead, far from a lapsing pulse. Erika Wennerstrom and company's latest disc finds the group relaxing and expanding into their sound, delivering straightforward rock with a heartfelt punch. Filled with uplifting lyrics (“I get up to reach the sun. I won't take shit from anyone”) and catchy hooks, this is the kind of album that gives hope for music of the future. With tunes like opening track “Wind Up Bird” to the slower and softer “Pocket Full of Thirst,” the band shows their range, dreaming up anthemic rock, then bringing the listener back down to Earth with Wennerstrom's powerful vocals. Seriously, if this woman isn't canonized for her contribution to music later in life, then we've failed considerably. And if this album doesn't serve as another document of proof to that effect (on top of 2005's Stairs and Elevators), all hope is lost. (Mark Lopez)