CD Reviews


Crystal Castles Crystal Castles II (Fiction)

Sure, they claim to take their name from the background of the ’80s cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power, but Crystal Castles is anything but childlike. Vocalist Alice Glass and programmer Ethan Kath conjure synthetic landscapes of pain, grief and despair with unmatched compositional finesse. To call this stuff dance music is absurd, since there’s so much dynamic aggression in Glass’ plastic utterances. She goes from vapid Barbie doll to merciless cyber-executioner depending on the song (try “Empathy,” then “Doe Deer”). Her nightmarish delivery captures our disintegrating humanity in the face of technology, crony capitalism and ceaseless imperialism. II is hardly a political album, but it will resonate in the mind of anyone who wonders, as Glass does in the album’s final track, “I’m Made of Chalk,” if that’s, in fact, all we really are. ★★★★☆


Enforcer Diamonds (Heavy Artillery)

Whatever happened to English throwback-metal act The Darkness? In 2003, the band’s “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” became inescapable, its catchy hook and fierce riffs burrowing into the collective pop-culture consciousness. Three years later, the band collapsed, leaving a vacuum. Sweden’s Enforcer, whose sophomore album, Diamonds, deserves a wider audience than boutique label Heavy Artillery can reach, will likely fill it. Enforcer offers pure old-school heavy metal with thrash tendencies and Europe-an (as in the ’80s glam-pop group Europe) vocal lines. The combination is, even to this glam-metal-despising critic, difficult to downplay, as songs such as the fist-pumping “Katana” are the aural equivalent of crack cocaine. There are no power ballads in Diamonds—just rough-and-ready rockers aimed squarely at the Billboard charts … circa 1986. Spray your iPod with AquaNet and light it on fire! ★★★★☆

Local Release

Minor Suns Minor Suns (Self-released)

Comprising three guitarists who trade off on songwriting and vocals (plus a rotating drummer’s slot), local band Minor Suns made heads turn during their Neon Reverb set back in March. The band has just released its debut, 10 tracks of majestic, bittersweet indie rock that takes listeners from the quiet confines of a bedroom tiff to the riotous din of a mountaintop excavation. Ryan McIlvaine is the romantic one, wearing heartbreak on his sleeve as he croons with a lover to just “say yes.” Jesse Harvel, meanwhile, is cerebral, his clever guitar lines mapped out like interaction graphs. (Check out “Close Second.”) But Jared Luke serves as the band’s cosmic seer: Songs such as the lovely “Rising Sun” sound like the Flying Burrito Brothers being launched into orbit with a space shuttle-full of psychedelic drugs. Difficult to peg, and to quit playing. Download the album for free at ★★★★★

Suggested Next Read

‘Crazy Money’


‘Crazy Money’

On the night of Nov. 15, 2001, George Maloof brought Paris Hilton to the grand opening of the Palms. And as the heiress-turned-reality-TV-star walked the red carpet in a dress made from $1 million in poker chips, a new type of celebrity was born: people paid to party.