Sonic Reducer: Voodoo Kid, V1Rtual D3Scent, Fred Johnson

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Voodoo Kid is an outfit that self-identifies as “a modern rock and roll band.” By the looks of their Bandcamp profiles, they’ve been responsible for more than a half dozen reocordings, the lastest being Gone Away Mad, which dropped on Nov. 18. Guitar and vocals are front and center here—all the other instrumentation is supplemental—and the informed yet predictable chops the dudes use come straight from the classic rock canon; I’m sure that’s a Strat or an SG slithering through most of the tracks. The singer could be any emotionally advanced hesher from a youthful Myles Goodwyn to a semi-aged and already infirm Chester Bennington. The midway-through ballad, “Falling Out,” draws directly from the sacred book of hair rock, which begs a brilliant question: Are all these derivative doings worthy of sustained listening or in the flesh, concert-time worship? I don’t know, ask Alice Cooper; I’m too busy jamming out.

V1RTUAL D3SCENT Darkened Skies (DSBP Records)

At times coarsely executed—because hey, everybody needs to work on their lyrics, me included—but with a cunning and constantly regenerating, winning ’80s cop-show-industrial beat aggressively floating through the proceedings like it wants to seduce you with agitation and lust, the new digital album by Burque dark electro, EBM synthpop outfit V1RTUAL D3SCENT is certainly worth a listen. It may sound especially awesome on those Saturday nights one would otherwise spend at home alone drinking vodka, tapping through Facebook and ruminating on the sad purposelessness of life. I’m certainly up for those sorts of kicks if playing this recording and dancing around numbly to its urgent tone are included on said Saturdays. Highlights include title track “Darkenened Skies,” “Unit 731” and the dangerously discursive, keyboards-deluxe closer, “Disintegrate.”

Fred Johnson Haul Away Joe (Self-Released)

Fred Johnson is the name of the gravelly, tremulously rambling and probably deep and dark American music trio that features Sean O’Connor on banjo and vocals, Joe Silva on guitar and vocals and the ubiquitous Mark Weaver on percussion and tuba. Weaver’s use of the low register, orchestral brass instrument in the place of a sting bass in many a local ensemble signifies the evolution of musical aesthetics in Albuquerque; following his use and experimentation, a whole generation of this town’s musical artists began to try out new sounds and alternate configurations. That’s a whole different story, because in this recording ensemble playing is key to creating an intriguing and repeatedly engaging work that brushes texture onto traditional American work and folk music and aesthetics with Postmodern aplomb. Every track is golden but “Joe Louis Was a Fighting Man,” “Meet You In the Parking Lot” and “Invitation to the Blues” are timelessly presented.

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