Sonic Reducer: Micro Album Reviews

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Hooks sings like a vintage Paul Westerberg having a breakdown in the parking lot of a shit-hole small-town bar … which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. His minor/open chord guitar-playing even sounds like Let It Be Replacements. Don’t get too close to this fantasy, though, because the drum sound on this recording has no depth, leaving everything a little brittle and high-end. Pub-rock is the other description that comes to mind, especially lyrics-wise which, in a word, are cliché. To be fair, folks seem most enthusiastic about this local band’s live shows, which often take place in pubs! Perfect! (Geoff Plant)

Marcus Strickland Triumph of the Heavy, Vol. 1 & 2 (Strick Muzik)

From the Vol. 1 opener, “Lilt,” a sea breeze in a hard bop wrapper, to the Vol. 2 closer, the energetically ruminative “Cuspy’s Delight,” it’s hard to know what to praise more, saxophonist/clarinetist Strickland’s performances or his compositions. Playing with imposing confidence, he explores emotionally charged thoughts rather than just charging through the changes. The 15 original tunes build on strong, tart heads that admit infinite variations. Vol. 1 features the savvy quartet—with David Bryant (piano), Ben Williams (bass) and E.J. Strickland (drums)—in the studio. The more astringent Vol. 2 captures the longtime trio (subtract piano) live. (Mel Minter)

Various FAC. DANCE: Factory Records 12 (Strut)

This collection of obscurities from Factory Records—the Manchester-based independent label most famous for housing Joy Division—ranges from industrial to funk to lounge to disco to experimental jazz freak-out. It’s a 24-track orgy of doofy synthesizers with saxophones and novelty percussion thrown in by ’80s music mandate. Allegedly you can dance to it, but I wouldn’t hazard to test that hypothesis. I don’t think I’ll play any of these tracks the next time I DJ (not even at the beginning of the night when people are too sober to dance and you can play Ash Ra Tempel, or whatever, without hearing about it from Booze Face who wants that song that goes duh-duh-duh). Sometimes music is rare for a reason. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)

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