Calmosa, Seasons EP (Self-released)
“It’s an oversaturated market,” sings Calmosa frontman Rob Emerson. No, he’s not referring to the dating scene. He’s actually commenting on the glut of bands specializing in sugary aggression. But his band Calmosa does it better than most, and knows it. The Vegas quintet’s five-song EP is a bracing, breakneck listen, from riff-frenzied tour manifesto “Sleeping in Shifts” to The Hold Steady-influenced adolescent memoir “Kasim Terrace.” A very promising debut. ★★★☆☆
Black Camaro, B-Sides & C-Sides Vol. 2 (Self-released)
Still-warm on the heels of last summer’s studio full-length comes this odds-and-sods collection—except there’s nothing here to suggest it’s a leftovers release. B-Sides is A-grade material showcasing songwriters Brian Garth and Tom Miller’s effortless, limitless talent. Consider the jawbreaking power-pop of “Afternoon Man,” or the greasy meth lab-burning biker-jam “Kill Somebody and Shit,” or the lovely synth-candy psychedelia of “Lemonade.” Plus, it’s all, as usual, immaculately produced. Why Black Camaro isn’t hugely famous is beyond my understanding. ★★★★☆
Be Like Max, Play in the Mud (Self-released)
Two things surprise me about this debut full-length. First, kids still play ska. Second, local band Be Like Max offers maximum aural pleasure with produced-with-crystal-clarity Play in the Mud, comprising 14 party-ready songs. The best might be “Bobby Got a Van,” with its butt-kickin’ trumpet-and-trombone blasts and double-time, distorted-rock-guitar interlude. But my serious guilty pleasure is “Hand Me a Beer,” a 99-percenter’s alcohol-after-work anthem if there ever was one. “There’s more to life than working for the man,” sings frontman Charley Fine. I’ll drink to that. ★★★☆☆
Upcoming albums on Jarret’s radar …
FEB. 26: Rising Australian synth-pop quintet Gold Fields comes out with its first full-length, Black Sun, for the Astralwerks label. Judging by ’80s-inspired, guitar-powered single “Dark Again,” this one’s a keeper.
MARCH 5: Trent Reznor’s gloomy cyber-torch song project How To Destroy Angels finally—FINALLY—releases a full-length titled Welcome Oblivion. Glitch-infused, techno-kissed, post-apocalyptic pop song “How Long” lets the bad times roll, indeed.
MARCH 12: Formally trained Canadian classical composer and soprano singer Rachel Zeffira debuts in the States with The Deserters, a chamber-pop record adorned with piano, violin and oboe. Her cover of My Bloody Valentine’s “To Here Knows When” is calculated yet beautiful.