• Photo by Aaron Richter

    Summer of Wub: Inside the Dubstep Boom

    Borgore brings his own pole dancers. It's two in the morning in the unofficial dubstep corner of Nocturnal Wonderland Texas, the third installment of the late-April festival staged by Insomniac Events, America's dominant electronic-dance-music promoter. The other acts on this bass-music stage have settled for the usual visual iconography of laser sprays, candy-colored floodlights, and in-house dance troupes (one of which features dancers dressed like sexy bunches of white grapes). Not Borgore, the 24-year-old Israeli DJ/producer/"rapper," who has equated his seed to a dairy treat on record (see 2010's moaning "Ice Cream") and his manhood to an elephant ("Nympho," self-explanatory).

  • JEFF the Brotherhood, 'Hypnotic Nights' (Warner Bros.)

    JEFF the Brotherhood, two Southern siblings united in a mission to rawk, would make excellent action figures. Guitarist/vocalist Jake Orrall, the Skynyrd-’stached elder, looks like he's auditioning for Stillwater in an Almost Famous reboot; drummer Jamin's mold easily could be bootlegged from Luke Skywalker's Kenner head and Animal's Muppet body. The Nashville bros attack their instruments with the frantic, clawing energy of ferrets trapped in trousers — this could be simulated with AA batteries and/or Mexican jumping beans. Sold separately would be their father, Robert Ellis Orrall, an accomplished Music Row songwriter whose 300-plus credits range from country-pop princess Taylor Swift to tabloid vulgarity Lindsay Lohan.

  • The Walkmen / Photo by Ian Witlen

    The Walkmen, 'Heaven' (Fat Possum/Bella Union)

    The Walkmen, five D.C. transplants with a collective affinity for collars and sweaters, were never known for clinging to adolescence. Everybody Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone was the smart title of their early-aughts debut, a remarkably astute prophecy for a young, Harlem-stationed band inelegantly (and reluctantly) lumped in with the self-aggrandizing Great NYC Rock Revival of 2002 — that pre-smoking-ban musical caste of artfully mussed Lower East Side vampires and bathroom-stall hedonists. Two years and countless, stubborn refusals to acknowledge they "sounded like the Strokes" later, the Walkmen already were openly disavowing opportunism, betrayal, and the meaninglessness of social constructs on their sophomore full-length, Bows + Arrows.

  • Zeds Dead / Photo by Dan Prakopcyk

    Dubstep Debacle: Atlantic City Awards Ceremony Wubs Crowd the Wrong Way

    Is American dubstep ready for its moment? Apparently not, based on this past Saturday’s inaugural North American Dubstep Music Awards, a one-day festival held inside Atlantic City's Showboat Casino. A nine-hour electronic dance music event advertising more than 35 performers in three indoor venues, including scene staples 12th Planet and Zeds Dead, the DMAs were an ambitious proposition targeted at the young market often identified as "brostep." Too ambitious, it turned out. Most of the day, there were more hungry gamblers lined up to eat downstairs at retro-cheeseburger malt-shop Johnny Rockets than bass-music spectators in the Harlem Ballroom, a 1,000-capacity reception hall where lady-dub DJ Reid Speed and drum-and-bass pioneer/dub-dabbler Photek played to a very empty space.

  • Frankie Rose / Lauren Bilanko

    Frankie Rose, 'Interstellar' (Slumberland)

    On Interstellar, the best thing Frankie Rose has ever touched, the raven-haired songwriter seems to have found the luminous freedom she'd been pursuing for so long. For a while there, Rose's most distinguishing characteristic was her creative restlessness. Ever since relocating from San Francisco to New York in 2007, she's burned through four musical commitments in five years. First, in a Spinal Tap-like succession of drummers, she backed up wobbly lo-fi micro-starlets Vivian Girls. Then after an "ugly" (her words) split, the Williamsburg resident spent time as the stand-up beat-keeper in Silver Factory throwbacks Crystal Stilts, followed by a singing-and-pounding shift in fuzz-gum foursome Dum Dum Girls.

  • Mark Lanegan / Photo by Joe Toreno/Retna

    The Inquisition: Mark Lanegan

    Mark Lanegan's seventh solo record, the muscular and moody Blues Funeral (4AD), is his first in eight years, but good luck getting the former Screaming Trees frontman to explain the gap between personal projects. "I ended up doing other things" is all he'll say. (And he'll say it gruffly.) So let us fill in the blanks: Lanegan was busy collaborating with Scottish chanteuse Isobel Campbell on three full-lengths, lending his deeply emotive vocals to Queens of the Stone Age, conspiring with Greg Dulli on the Gutter Twins, and crooning for electronic-music production duo Soulsavers. Back on his own, the raspy-voiced 47-year-old used Blues Funeral to conjure old haunts ("Harborview Hospital") and air his French-language skills ("The Gravedigger's Song").

  • Die Antwoord

    Die Antwoord, 'TEN$ION' (ZEF Recordz)

    Once again, let's give a warm welcome to Ninja, the meth-head Situation, and his zombie-Gelfling homeslice, Yo-Landi Vi$$er! After a brief Cape Town hiatus spent avoiding nutrition, wearing adult Underoos, and fokken around wif homies, the ugly faces of South Africa's rap-rave crew Die Antwoord have returned to present their second Stateside full-length, which they've promoted, poker-faces intact, as having "much higher" "gangster levels" than $O$, their zany 2010 debut. The self-released TEN$ION comes two years to the month after the Boing Boing website posted Die Antwoord's "Enter the Ninja" video — a freak-rap sensory overload of demented Keith Haring night terrors, yin-yang vomit, and possible criminal longing that arrived like a Super Soaker ambush, one giant targeted WTF so laughably serious and seriously laughable that it could've been a Craig Ferguson sketch.

  • Blackout Beach, 'Fuck Death' (Dead Oceans)

    Frog Eyes front-toad Casey Mercer warns that the unsettling dramas on his third solo full-length as Blackout Beach are a "coward's songs." They also comprise a minimal synth-opera, with chilling scenes of abstract turmoil and stoic betrayal, in which a guitar amp, a drum machine, and icy echo narrate just as firmly as Mercer and his Frog Eyes bandmate Megan Boddy. Opener "Beautiful Burning Desire" is a terrifyingly seductive six-minute dirge. "Hornet's Fury into the Bandit's Mouth" builds into a sanity-slipping, deep-baritoned soliloquy. And "Be Forewarned, the Night Has Come" summons Nick Cave's lounge ghost. Think Xiu Xiu reimagining Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime. Or Suicide soundtracking Apocalypse Now. Or the xx doing How Dick Whitman Became Don Draper: The Musical. Cheery stuff!

  • The Soft Moon, 'Total Decay' (Captured Tracks)

    The Soft Moon, 'Total Decay' (Captured Tracks)

    The Soft Moon's ineluctable reference point is Joy Division, but while many Factory Records disciples mimic Ian Curtis' bass-baritone delivery, this industrial-goth project from San Francisco's Luis Vasquez focuses on producer Martin Hannett's nervous, isolated terror. Total Decay, a four-track EP that follows 2010's overlooked, self-titled debut, is the sound of human silence once the machines have assumed control: "Visions" is a heat-wave cantata of robot cicadas, "Repetition" is krautrock narrated by a bionic armpit fart, and "Alive" is what Gollum's "my precious" monologue would've sounded like if Lord of the Rings had been a musical. Dear All Tomorrow's Parties: Book this band immediately and meet your future.

  • Blouse, 'Blouse' (Captured Tracks)

    Blouse, 'Blouse' (Captured Tracks)

    Blouse are a hazy Portland trio who picked their name out of a dry cleaner's window and have actively identified as dream pop. But the West Coast threesome's pillowy, nostalgic abstractions veer from the sweeping histrionics of M83 or breezy gestures of various Scandinavians toward a woozy, romantic restlessness: Pains of Being Pure at Heart birthed by Madchester, Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval in The Breakfast Club, Metric for philosophy majors. "I was in the future yesterday," confides frontwoman Charlie Hilton over pounding synths in "Time Travel," a standout track that reimagines H.G. Wells as a Thomas Dolby–era romance novelist.

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