Sonic Reducer: Euth Group, Spicy Bois, Golconda

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The liner notes to this explosively entertaining, twisting and turning EDM meets rocanrol discourse say that this is a compendium of “failed” demos. If what follows is failed then I am truly fucked: This is some of the most inventive, perpendicularly syncopated electronic rock to come out of the dry and desert-doomed mouth of Dirt City in some time. Starting with the propulsive and impulsive opener, “Slim As A Whip”—whose jangly guitars start out friendly before becoming neatly threatening—and continuing through messy, subtly unhinged masterworks like “Succumbing to the Garden of Life”—where the use of an unabashedly, electronically manipulated drum track is not only acceptable but preferred—this album has a life of its own and grows unchecked once listeners tap the play button. Favorite track: “Polished”—that’s pure power.

Spicy Bois Ugly Delicious (Self-Released)

It’s 2018; everybody wants to be a rapper. It’s the new thing, replacing the thing where adherents of popular culture (read: just about every goddamn American from here to Califas) wanted to be a rock star, and previous to that a serious crooner with a silk smoking jacket. Spicy Bois are certainly on the right track here, if one sees the accomplishment of affiliation with hip-hop nation as a dutiful activity for young Americans. Too often though, the vernacular is gleaned from hip-hop’s standard repertoire: women are “bitches” and success can be adequately symbolized through references to money. Now that I’ve got that disclosure out of the way, I’ve got to admit there are some pretty tasty bits on this record such as “Ruckus (OG Spice)” and the amazingly affecting, unforeseen closer, “Icarus (Tribute to Billy McFarland).”

Golconda Valle Crucis (Two Labyrinths Records)

Valle Crucis is a vaprous, haunting album, of the same quality of the ghosts and spirits that linger over human experience, particularly those concerned with suffering, desire and redemption. Throughout the work, the deliberate musicality of singer-songwriter Luke Gullickson and his band shimmers quietly with purposeful guidance as it carries listeners through narratives that touch on universal archetypes. All of this happens while Gullickson gracefully lends personal experience to the proceedings in sweetly melodic, almost whispered tones. This is a short-length, deeply sentimental offering; the quality and casual excellence of execution—especially on tracks like “Mnemosyne” and “Isle of Rest” make it worth a listen that can be engaged any time the world is imagined as a heavy, unconquerable entity.

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