Moderat, II (Mute)
Moderat is the odd love child of and ongoing collaboration between two electro acts, pop-focused Apparat (Sascha Ring) and murky bass-glitchin’ Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary). On paper, it sounds impossible; on disc, it works like a dream, especially on this second full-length. Opener “The Mark (Interlude)” offers techno’s best qualities—an ebullient melody and evocative synth and beats. “Let in the Light” is the purest sonic illumination, beginning with a Vicodin-laced vocal line and evolving into a sunlit dance-anthem. Moderat is simply mesmeric. ★★★★☆
Palms, Palms (Ipecac)
Deftones frontman Chino Moreno is a promiscuous musical accomplice, working on numerous (mostly one-off) side projects. But Palms, which teams Moreno with members of defunct metal band Isis, sounds like it has lasting power. Guitarist Clifford Meyer provides an atmospheric soundscape that evokes noir L.A. for Moreno, an admitted Cure fan, to explore gothier tones. You can almost hear trees burning along the harbor on “Future Warrior,” while the frozen, dreamy chords of “Antarctic Handshake” rise like the architecture of a tundra-buried ice castle. ★★★★☆
Critical Cirkus, CitySlicker (Self-released)
Here’s my new favorite local band, which moved here from Sweden to lay waste to Vegas poseurs. Imagine the already coked-out Sunset Strip of the ’80s. Now imagine said scene injected with Breaking Bad’s blue crystal meth. The result is Critical Cirkus, which pays ferocious homage to old-school L.A. butt-rock. The title track has everything you expect—balls-in-a-vise vocals, Van Halen-burying guitar pyro. First single “Deceiver” doesn’t condescend like Steel Panther, either. If you cherish loud music made the old way, this new stuff should clear your atrophied sinuses. ★★★★☆
Upcoming on Jarret’s radar …
AUGUST 13: On her 10th studio album Push Any Button, singer-songwriter Sam Phillips filters her literate, lyrical songcraft through the ’50s and ’60s radio pop styles à la the Beach Boys and Buddy Holly. AUGUST 20: Superchunk also unveils a 10th studio effort, I Hate Music, which is being billed as “the dark twin” to 2010’s peppy Majesty Shredding. AUGUST 27: Retro-blues-soul-funk savant Black Joe Lewis releases Electric Slave, which appears, according to statements made by Lewis himself, to be a quasi-concept album urging people to liberate themselves from the virtual yokes of iPhones and social media.