CD Reviews

High Doom, In Full Bloom, Sophie Hunger and Malos Hábitos


Death Valley High Doom, In Full Bloom (minus HEAD)


San Francisco doom-pop/death-rock quartet Death Valley High unleashes a sinus-clearing sophomore album that marries hideous, stab-happy guitar riffs (think D.C. post-hardcore à la Burning Airlines) to soaring, arena-ready vocal melodies (think Foo Fighters on a great day). DVH is frontman (and Deftones songwriting collaborator) Reyka Osburn’s monstrous baby, every song’s cruel lyrics mining the same compelling sci-fi metaphor—love as alien, replicating parasite. Doom is also a shrapnel bomb of modern rock styles ignited by Osburn’s horror-fueled mind. You’ll find shards of nü-metal (the slamming groove of “Multiply”), power-pop (the hook-laden “Thru Hell”) and even screamo (the throat-shredding “Meet Me for Ouija”) embedded in your ears. Dave Grohl fans will be shocked to hear Doom wasting the Foos’ overpraised Wasting Light. DVH is my new favorite; Doom is among 2011’s Top 10 rock albums. Ideal music by which to read dystopian novels like Battle Royale. Note: Digital-download “deluxe version” contains three extra tracks. ★★★★★


Sophie Hunger Sophie Hunger (Manimal Vinyl)


Swiss chanteuse Sophie Hunger makes her U.S. debut (after two albums released in Europe during the late aughts) with a self-titled collection of eerie folk-pop tunes. Her heart-melting yet head-scattered voice brings to mind Feist, but Hunger’s quirky compositions elicit stronger comparisons to avant-songstresses Björk and PJ Harvey, especially on fractured a capella opener “Leave Me With the Monkeys,” a plea for splendid isolation in the face of “cities full of storylines/Do I have to sing those rhymes?” But for every challenging moment there’s a straight-out-of-Zurich indie-rocker (“The Tourist”) or a sweet, glockenspiel-kissed slice of French pop (“Le Vent Nous Portera”) or a piano-and-trombone ballad (“Breaking the Waves”). Sure, there’s never a moment when Hunger goes for the throat, but that’s OK. These delicate song structures are mouthwatering croissants for those seeking crafted, honest music in a marzipan, dishonest age. Hunger’s underrated, for now. ★★★★☆


Daniele Luppi Malos Hábitos (Ipecac)


Daniele Luppi’s forthcoming collaboration with Danger Mouse, Rome, is among the most anticipated albums of 2011. But truthfully that project is little more and nothing less than a poppier retread of the motifs established by fellow Italian movie composer Ennio Morricone (A Fistful of Dollars). More intriguing and deeply satisfying is Luppi’s solo piano (with string orchestrations) score for Malos Hábitos, (Bad Habits) a celebrated 2007 Mexican film about a warped family living in Mexico City. Luppi, who scored movies such as Inside Deep Throat, displays the haunting, minimalist side of his imagination— especially as compared with his crossover work with Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells—with these 20 instrumental tracks. There’s a melancholy aura, a palpable yet lovely gloominess (“Gordibuena”), simmering in the background. Still, the music never sounds hopeless, only hope-strained, fraught with the beauty of a dying sunset. Leave it to Ipecac founder/Faith No More frontman Mike Patton to bring out a soundtrack this delightfully unusual! ★★★★☆

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