Sonic Reducer: Lunch Lady And The Vanilla Drill, Stories And Hex

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Is everyone in the Albuquerque music scene that developed after the formation of the Martian Funk Ensemble in 1979 secretly but surely influenced by the sounds and recording techniques pioneered by OG Burque rockers like Manny Rettinger and Carl Petersen? This record says yes—even 40 years later—although, like much else that leaks out of the scene’s edge, this record could have come about through repeated listening to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, too. Stretch’s work is wispy, quirky, faraway and loaded with guitar tunings and harmonics that defy gravity while embracing a sort of dissonance and laidback lo-fi fiddling about that would make Robert Pollard proud. It all gets remarkably intense and totally far-out on work like “my body is trapped in a spreadsheet but my mind is free” and “hot mess express table for one.”

The Ordinary Things Stories (Empty House Studio)

Meanwhile, back in rocanrol-landia, The Ordinary Things are making music that rocks. Self-characterized as an indie music trio—who must remain anonymous for the purposes of this interview because their names aren’t easily extractable from the interwebz—The Ordinary things have been recorded by Burque music master Matthew Tobias, resulting in a record that sounds as clear as a bell. The sound is spare but emphatic, with trebly vocals and a crispness that communicates ennui and anxiety with aplomb. Second track “Don’t Drift Away” is just like that and is followed by a tune that gives the lead vocalist plenty of room to stretch her songwriting skills with methodical, melodic storytelling. There’s just a touch of twang in these proceedings, by the way, and it works its way into full bloom on shoegazing glory on tracks 9 and 10, “Swim In The Stars” and “I Am The Space.”

Stephen Siegrist Hex (Self-released)

The twang gets all mythically serious, though, on this this week’s third album for review, a little nugget of hellishly heavenly concoctions by local singer-songwriter Stephen Siegrist. As dark and troubling as you want to be, with vocals so focused they seem to come from a megaphone tumbling away in a black universe of restless emotion—the lyrics “playing hide and seek with Jesus on the car radio” is just dang perfect if you want to know—Siegrist immediately dives deep, resulting in a piece of work that, like a strong cup of coffee, is good to the last damn drop. Tuneage like “Esmeralda” and “Heartbreaking Rose” say it all with a rusty and somewhat disturbing passion that will have listeners reaching for the replay button while they warm that coffee up with more than few drops of tear-laden whiskey.

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