Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of Black Moon Spell, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes And Art Official Age

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Here’s the thing about King Tuff: The man just knows how to have fun. Sure, he often gets lumped into the garage-psyche meanderings of fellow contemporaries like Ty Segall, Bass Drum of Death, Thee Oh Sees and so on. But what makes Tuff different is his knack for mixing garage aesthetics with slick, poppy hooks. The dude’s songs are catchy as all hell. Take for instance the opening title track for his latest LP Black Moon Spell. It’s sinister, gross, listenable and an all-around jammer. Even when he’s coloring your brain on “Rainbow’s Run” or affirming his affection for a monster in “I Love You Ugly,” there’s still something to love here. It may not be Was Dead, but let the witchy components of this new set cast their weird, magnetic spell on you. ‘Cause why not? (Mark Lopez)

Thom Yorke TomorrowÕs Modern Boxes (Self-released)

Scenes from 20 years of listening to Radiohead: Rejection of grunge as banal; acquisition of “Banana Co.” for purely sentimental purposes; Fake Plastic Trees; efficient channeling of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Queen; intercourse with electronic entities; wicked deconstruction of rocanrol; dancing; and so on. What’s next? Thom Yorke provides a forward-looking clue on surprise BitTorrent release Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. Outside the boundaries of ensemble playing, Yorke digs deep holes—which he then explores exhaustively with keen attention to surrounding darkness. The songwriting is disturbing. Yorke’s treatment of melody as unpredictable machinery (“A Brain in a Bottle”) adds to a subtle anxiety encountered throughout. His voice remains fragile but demonstrates bluesy gravitas on “Truth Ray.” Like most Radiohead recordings, there isn’t a bad track to be found here, but listening requires that you come to terms with the postmodern despair generated on works like “There is No Ice (For My Drink).” (August March)

Prince Art Official Age (Warner Bros.)

Prince released two LPs via sometimes-nemesis Warner Brothers this week, Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum. They’re both notable efforts in terms of execution and command of the space-age sonic tools at the artist’s disposal, but Art Official Age commands attention for its soul-worthy attempt to brain listeners with a heavy rotating metal object. Wildly imaginative, blatantly discursive and funkier than a backwards-spinning titanium propeller from the Old Testament, it includes romantic interludes (“Clouds”) and proactively propulsive rejoinders to contemporary culture (“Art Official Cage”). The sampling is subtle and the sentiments symphonic (if self-conscious) on this recording. The purple one hasn’t sounded this reflexively confident in years, using versatility as an instrumentalist and prowess as a producer to feel his way into the future. Spend at least a week with Art Official Age before moving on to the sly sounds available on companion piece PlectrumElectrum. (August March)

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