CD Reviews


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Before Today (4AD)

After years of releasing his music on cassette and vinyl via underground labels (Animal Collective’s own Paw Paw), Ariel Pink develops a higher-resolution version of his patented lo-fi psyche-pop on the 4AD label. This time, Before Today toggles between ’80s synth pop pastiche and punky Sgt. Pepper approximations. An example of the former, “Round and Round” starts out like a Thompson Twins cover before unfolding in the style of a gorgeous lost Hall & Oates B-side classic. (Pink cites them as an influence.) “Butt-House Blondies” is the closest he’s come to crafting a full-on rock anthem. Indeed, the production here’s much fuller than Pink’s previous outings. But he’s lost none of the effervescent sense of melody, the knack for hooks that distinguishes his work from the many “indie” imitations currently populating the genre. Off-kilter pop doesn’t get any better. ★★★★☆


How to Destroy Angels How to Destroy Angels EP (Self-released)

Taking their band’s name from an old Coil single, Trent Reznor, wife Mariqueen Maandig and programmer Atticus Ross have created the prime electronic-rock album of the year, a series of simmering, doom-laden torch songs that drape Kraftwerk’s harshly atmospheric clothing over Julie London’s sensual approach. Warning: HTDA doesn’t grab you by the throat, instead slipping behind you to press a cold, post-industrial blade to your neck. In some ways retro, in others futuristic, a song like “The Space in Between” (“All our blood lying on the floor/Sense the crowd expecting something more”) features noisy blasts of effects-drenched guitar that build to white-hot intensity, even as Maandig completes her dark confession. “The Believers,” on the other hand, takes on religious extremism: “Hands and knees, we all atone./Path is paved with blood and bone.” Those angry Galaga-sounding missile blasts? Icing on a goth cupcake. ★★★★★


Sons of Liberty Brush-Fires of the Mind (Century Media)

Just in time for primary voting in the libertarian stronghold of Nevada, Iced Earth guitarist/songwriter Jon Schaffer made his debut album with side project Sons of Liberty available for free download at the band’s website. (Get it in its digital form now at or wait until July 13 for a proper physical release by Century Media.) Brush-Fires of the Mind is pure Ron Paul-inspired free-market, limited government, hard-rock propaganda, which isn’t a bad thing unless you’re allergic to conspiracy theo… er, I mean different viewpoints on, say, the Federal Reserve (destroying our currency), state sovereignty (undermined by the U.N.), and the Constitution (constantly ignored). Songs are pleasingly catchy, even if the lyrics are too liberal for Ted Nugent, too conservative for Tom Morello. Titles like “Don’t Tread on Me” say it all, but don’t dismiss the Sons as being red-state kooky. This is solid rock with something unique to say about the reasons for America’s decline. ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

A Nation’s Strength


A Nation’s Strength

Rain Nightclub at the Palms underwent a transformation June 2 as Taste of the Nation took over. The foodie-pleasing party featured food from more than 30 of the city’s top kitchens, and benefited Share Our Strength, which strives to eliminate child hunger in America. Local beneficiaries included Three Square Food Bank, Catholic Charities of Las Vegas and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Chefs for Kids program.