As Yet Unbroken Unknown (Self-released)
Pj Perez is a jack of all nerd-cool trades—comics artist, social-media savant, Vegas Seven contributor and now rock guitarist/drummer (oh, and producer/engineer). He leads the charge of the light-grunge brigade with As Yet Unbroken, a gaggle of Vegas artists who sound like Stone Temple Pilots on Oxycontin. There’s something refreshing about the pure, simple chorus of “My Reality,” even with its garage-level guitar tone. The gothy bass line in anti-pharma rant “Post Life Society” is rad. Sure, singer Tim Beck’s pipes are indebted to ’90s Seattle, but he means every disaffected high school poetry couplet he growls. To my taste, the amplifiers could be mixed louder, making Unknown (the title a nod to Joy Division) an uneven, if spirited, pleasure. Listening tip: Cranking the volume helps. Live, Perez has switched to playing the six-string; let’s see if he shreds. ★★★☆☆
As Yet Unbroken’s CD-release party is 8 p.m. March 30 at Theatre7 (1406 S. Third St.), $5, proceeds benefit Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. Available on iTunes and AsYetUnbrokenMusic.com.
The Big Friendly Corporation Nocturne (Self-released)
On the surface, nothing has changed for The Big Friendly Corporation. Keyboardist Melissa Marth is as talented and lovely as ever. Her brother (and band founder) Ryan still delivers quirky pop songs. Guitarist Jeff Ford remains a stellar musician. On a deeper level, though, nothing coalesces on Nocturne, the band’s third album. The reasons aren’t obvious, so here’s my take—too many overconfident, chops-crazy instrument-humpers in the rock ’n’ roll kitchen. Opening track “Tonight” would be a nice Elephant 6-style slice of fractured psyche-pop at 90 seconds, but wears out its welcome for three additional minutes as TBFC noodles around the chord structure minus a payoff. “Bad Taste,” a spazz-jazz rap, lives up to its title. Things get even weirder with the jokey Steve Miller tribute “The Watcher.” With every song, TBFC pushes things in a musician-centered, rather than indie crowd-pleasing, direction. Nocturne doesn’t evoke nighttime so much as naptime. Order Nocturne at TheBigFriendlyCorporation.com. ★★☆☆☆
Demon Lung Pareidolia EP (Hexakosioihexekontahex)
It’s easy being the best doom-metal band in town when you’re the only doom-metal band in town. But stoner-rock marauders Demon Lung proved they can match anyone’s Sabbath-genuflecting game by expertly opening for national doom act High on Fire at Beauty Bar. Now, the Lung’s four-song debut EP arrives—22 minutes of Phil Burns’ Yucca Mountain-burrowing guitar riffs and Shanda Fredrick’s eerily beautiful voice, a desert-dusted tumbleweed of satanic invocation. From the skull-scraping SOS of “Lament Code” to the reanimation-themed murder-groove of “Sour Ground” to the pitiless beatdown of “Death Mask,” Pareidolia (the term means seeing animal images or human faces in nonhuman phenomena—say, the man on the moon) is a powerful effort by Vegas’ first “true metal” juggernaut since Goatlord in the ’80s. It helps that drummer Jeremy Brenton and bassist Pat Warren comprise an airtight rhythm section. Go ahead and inhale this musical spliff deeply. Listen at DemonLung.bandcamp.com or buy the cassette at Hex-Recoreds.blogspot.com. ★★★☆☆