Hit Me Baby, Punk Me One More Time (SquidHat)
I go to punk rock for passionate ferocity and ferocious passion. Maybe it’s why I find this digital-only, Britney-covers album by tribute band Hit Me Baby so irritatingly kitschy. Intended to celebrate the Spears residency at Planet Hollywood, it sounds like Alien Ant Farm with worse musical taste. Equally depressing is how numbskull these songs are, especially “Outrageous,” which comprises a single fucking chord. Thanks for confirming my hatred of dance-pop, guys. Don’t do it again.★✩✩✩✩
Toxsikk, 2 Moons (Rap Is Dead)
Local indie label Rap Is Dead dishes up the debut of 18-year-old MC Toxsikk. Taking production cues—and maybe a few psychoactives—from the ol’ Wu-Tang school of chopped-up beats and pitch-bending samples, Toxsikk tosses a cool, Vegas-centric throwback effort into the underground arena. His ode to Strip landmark “Luxor” is lyrically tantalizing, while the sci-fi synth blasts of “Orbit” perfectly complement his interstellar, language-rich reverie. Contrary to his label’s name, Toxsikk provides the necessary defibrillator to hip-hop’s cooling husk.★★★✩✩
3rd Man In, When Balloon Animals Attack/Forget What You Know EPs (PunksInVegas.com)
The fourth long-defunct local band to have its entire discography digitally re-released via PunksInVegas.com’s Vegas Archive series is 3rd Man In (1998-2001). Known for playing the first Warped Tour in Vegas and releasing a couple of EPs produced by Adam “Bomb” Segal, this punk quartet sounds as bustling as it did more than 10 years ago. Mark Grothman’s stuttering guitar riffs of “Shotdown” are superb. Singer Dave Hardy’s angst-ridden lyrics on “Questions” are cheerfully crabby. Indeed, PunksInVegas deserves praise for preserving our city’s musical past.★★★✩✩
Upcoming on Jarret’s radar …
FEB. 11: Canadian rocker Sam Roberts borrows the “Madchester” vibe for his Lo-Fantasy, full of funky house-music beats and big guitars. Even better, it’s produced by Youth (a.k.a. Martin Glover of Killing Joke). Single “We’re All in This Together” beats Oasis at its own game. FEB. 18: NYC-based synth duo Phantogram speak out with a second full-length, Voices, boasting a song titled—I shit you not—“Bill Murray.” Hopefully it samples a few measures of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters,” right? If not, unsettling yet ebullient cut “Fall in Love” will suffice. FEB. 25: Scottish indie-pop is supreme, and Withered Hand (really just Edinburgh singer-songwriter Dan Willson) reaches new jingle-jangly heights with New Gods. No less than the Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly makes a sonic cameo.