CD Reviews


Chambers Old Love (Self-released)

Proof the record industry is comatose? New Jersey hard-core band Chambers has to digitally release its nosebleed-inducing first album. Think of these basement-honed rockers as America’s answer to Gallows, and you get a sense of their potential for aural devastation. Drummer Vinnie Fiore wields that rare “swing,” though, which only ace punk skinsmen such as Dave Grohl possess. “Pig” erupts like a fiery British Petroleum safety celebration, while “Ripper” features guitarists Gregg Kautz and John Pinho whipping up their frothiest post-Motörhead riffage. “Fuck It Out,” meanwhile, is perhaps the sonic equivalent of hate sex. And “The Nest” is a doomy gallop toward oblivion, with vocalist Dan Pelic shredding his throat to bloody bits. If you buy one hard-core album this year, make it Old Love. ★★★★★


The Dig Electric Toys (Self-release)

Another unsigned yet somehow ready-for-stardom act, this NYC indie-rock quartet tries—and fails—to obscure its hard-on for the textured guitar antics of The Walkmen and the fractured vocal presence of The Strokes. Still, the pop-rock architecture of the tunes gathered in Electric Toys is impossible to dismiss. Don’t let the lush piano and orchestration of opener “Carry Me Home” confuse you; here’s a band with melodic ideas married to emotionally rich lyrics. Once the angular, bass-heavy seduction tale of “She’s Going to Kill That Boy” steals off with your heart and teases your mind courtesy of co-frontman David Baldwin’s dark lyrics (“With a head full of static noise/and a backpack full of electric toys”), you’ll be flat-out addicted. Candy-coated razor blades like this debut rarely taste so sweet, so necessary. ★★★★☆


Ratatat LP4 (XL Recordings)

In 2007 producer Evan Mast and guitarist Mike Stroud felt the need to leave NYC for the Catskills to create something as terrifyingly beautiful as LP3 (released in ’08) and the new LP4, albums recorded at the same time but released in stages. This second chunk of music is superior because of the rich, organic instrumentation and thoughtful arrangements. Whereas before Ratatat seemed content to work within the confines of electronica, now there’s a distinct post-rock, or baroque chamber-pop, playfulness on display in tracks such as “Drugs,” a vibrant Ennio Morricone-influenced video-game disco that challenges a critic’s descriptive powers. “Neckbrace,” on the other hand, ripples with bong-hit percussion and film dialogue samples, making for truly excellent munchie-hunting melodrama. It’s a great summer for electro-rock (Crystal Castles, Delorean), and Ratatat raises the aesthetic bar even higher with this highly original, wildly imaginative disc. ★★★★☆

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When something grows too fast for its own good, the results are never guaranteed. A native of Las Vegas with a background in the construction business, Milo Kostelecky knows this all too well. “As a city we’ve grown so fast that we forgot to really think about everybody that is living, working and building their families here,” he says. “Sometimes we get so carried away with expansion and forget what is at the core of it all—community.”



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