Apocalipstick—the sprawling second album by L.A.’s divergent pop-punk sweethearts Cherry Glazerr—is an undoubtedly matured take on the foursome’s unconventional noise-pop sound. Unlike their fuzzy, unrefined first album, Haxel Princess, which features pet-project songs like “Grilled Cheese” and “Teenage Girl,” this record’s fully-fleshed melodic dissonance and layered rhythm wraps itself around you and begs you to take the group seriously. In tracks like “Only Kid on the Block” and “Told You I’d Be With The Guys,” singer/songwriter Clementine Creevy croons her emotionally complex and sometimes controversial lyrics over tailored, festering scruff-rock. This somewhat stark shift between albums might be attributed to the foursome’s recent jump from Burger Records to Secretly Canadian—where they’ve teamed up with storied producer Joe Chiccarelli— but it could also have something to do with Apocalipstick being the introductory album for Cherry Glazerr’s new lineup. The group has always been woman-dominated, and Creevy (formerly known as the artist Clembutt) and bassist Sean Redman are founding members of the noise-pop quartet, while drummer Tabor Allen and synth artist Sasami Ashworth are new additions for 2017. Even though Cherry is a young band still honing their new-fangled sound, Apocalipstick will heavily resonate with fans of classic experimental rock favorites like Hop Along, Deerhoof, and Broken Social Scene, all of which sport erratic, female vocalists chasing after urgent instrumentals. —Maeve Holler

The same day that Donald Trump put his hand upon two different Bibles and swore to do all he could to uphold his duties as the 45th President of the United States, Canadian synthpop band, Austra, released their third album, Future Politics—a title which is either an eerie coincidence or the result of well-planned marketing. Their latest builds upon the band’s first two releases, Feel It Break (2011) and Olympia (2013), by taking the unpredictably dark road they first started down around a few new bends. Lead singer Katie Stelmanis’ classically trained vocals wrap around a stronger pulse than before as she takes the closest of three steps towards her audience, and her band (Maya Postepski, Dorian Wolf, and Ryan Wonsiak) is confident enough to let her do it. On the song “Freepower,” she sings “I am free! I can’t believe chains are broke/Tradition we delete/A human in the fortress,” which brings to mind the dignity we lose in the sort of creeping numbness that’s led us to having a monster of our own creation in charge of our rights, and the humanity we find in learning how to deal with it together. Midway through the last song of the album, “43,” Stelmanis sings, “Don’t ignore the feeling, you’re in the right,” which is a perfect take away and maybe something we should get in the habit of saying under our breaths for, oh, the next four years at least. If Austra’s first and second albums could be seen as marble bookends, cool to the touch and almost too pretty to handle, Future Politics is the pulpy stuff in the middle—a crack in the ice wide enough to see the warm blood flowing beneath. —Kelly McClure

Crying has been around for a few years getting attention as a LVL UP side project known for its original mix of catchy, emotional indie pop and chiptune that just barely fits in with its Run For Cover labelmates. Beyond The Fleeting Gales retains Elaiza Santos’ gentle, melodic vocal performance, conjuring favorable comparisons to both Liz Phair and Bilinda Butcher. Unexpectedly foregoing all Gameboy sounds, however, this album sees the band unleashing its guitarcraft and electronics to make astounding indie pop that harnesses so many of the dreamy, pastoral, and grandiose delights of anthemic ‘70s prog rock. It’s thrilling to see so many of Yes’ and King Crimson’s robust sounds get liberated from prog’s ostentatiousness but, even more, it’s inspiring to see Crying go beyond technical reproduction and grasp the ambitious aesthetic apparati of progressive rock. The band doesn’t stay terrestrial or pedestrian in its sounds or ideas and seems uninhibited in reaching for a new instrument to increase impact. “Origin” is a great example of how unconventional Crying has become—lyricizing both a play and riddle in a cascade of quirky synths, fast pop-punk riffs, and organ. Overall, the album shows a band abstracting a lot of its emotivity into external colors, structures, and nature. My favorite track and perhaps one of the best examples of this is “There Was A Door,” in which Santos describes coping with the male gaze from within an almost Jackson 5-meets-Yes pop track enhanced with scratching and anthemic riffing. —Ben Miotke

They’re at it again. Local purveyors of weirdo rock Dummy Dumpster’s newest offering, Red Sword of Redemption features everything you could hope for from the three-piece. There’s Minutemen-esque skronk, deep funky bass grooves, and tight drumming, all heightened by Mike Shadwell’s tragicomic yelps and moans. The rhythm section—the duo of Isidore Grisoli on bass and member-of- seemingly-one-hundred-bands) Bill Heintz on drums—astonishes. Tempos bob and weave on each track, leaving the listener guessing as to where each song will go. There are fairly tender moments on the album, including a synth chorus on “Chained Down,” which oohs and ahhs along with the band and lends a certain beauty to their mania. Maybe you’ve seen DD play around town these past several years. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to see their insane live show and pick up a record while you’re there. —Corey Cruse

Originally released in 2015 but recently reissued on local tape label A Necessary Evil, RUINR is a powerhouse of an album by Brownsville, Texas ensemble In Your Long Arms. Dirge-like guitar and drums build to towering crescendos. Feedback worshipers and fans of beautiful composition alike will find a lot to love here. Songs crawl with doom metal pacing as beautiful vocals lament, and fuzzed out guitars wrench the listener’s guts. This is no more apparent than on the album centerpiece “Worship” and its successor, “Under.” This is heavy music for sad people. Fans of bands as disparate as Neurosis, True Widow, and Slowdive will find something to love here, as In Your Long Arms offer bombast and melancholic enjoyment for days on end. —Corey Cruse

Sheer Mag, live or recorded, establishes uncommon depth and accessibility in recontextualizing ‘70s arena rock worship in a liberative, underground space. Their new anthology, an LP of hits-only E.P.s, has been crafted to demonstrate their dedication to the climactic, addictive rock popularized by Thin Lizzy, Nazareth, and Suzi Quatro, and remastered without losing the vital measure of raw, live energy they’ve already crystallized in the studio. Vocalist Christina Halladay is the lynchpin of Sheer Mag’s excellence, performing powerfully the best of hard rock’s vigor, vice, and sass while unmasking the patriarchy in its weak disguise as the male propriety of hard rock. This triumph over rock chauvinism becomes extra impactful when, reflecting Sheer Mag’s energy, a fervent, amiable, and expanding audience joins in as they did at Siberia this past September, during one of the most packed and positive shows I’ve seen at that venue. —Ben Miotke

Subversive Rite—a fully loaded arsenal of well-honed punk/hardcore veterans joining forces from other comparable acts including Perdition, Vermin, and Process—is a new project hailing from NYC. Indeed, Vermin and Process were bands based out of Florida, so half of Subversive Rite is comprised of freshly transplanted talent. The NYC hardcore punk scene, in its current manifestation, has experienced longevity, maintained earnestness, and supplied turntables and stages with a steady outpouring of records and bands over the last ten years. Subversive Rite provides a Sacrilege-leaning dynamic not heard since fellow New Yorkers Cervix did it back in 2009/2010, but they handle it with a much clearer, definitive approach to songwriting and vocals. Unlike Cervix, Subversive Rite is not simultaneously enshrouded by incomprehensible guitar fuzz and awash in torrents of vocal reverb. Positively, Subversive Rite is not a monotonous listening experience. The band executes a hard-charging, Motörhead-style d-beat gallop on drums, meshed with chunky bass work that acts as the engine to the songs’ direction and intensity. Some of their melody is a textbook allusion, in all the right ways, to Why-era Discharge. Stark artwork accompanies a stark message, showcasing new blood. —Dan McCoy

The whole time I was experiencing my first spin around this debut EP from Los Angeles’ The Menstruators, I couldn’t stop thinking about how a friend of mine once told me a story. She was at an L7 show in California, many years ago, and one of the members stopped playing, reached into her underwear, removed her used, bloody tampon, and threw it into the audience. Some people may consider a situation like that to be horrific, but to me it would have been such a thrill in that “oh shit, something’s really happening to me right now” kind of way. The Menstruators harness that same type of unexpected excitement and you can tell, this early into their career as a band, that they’re the tampon-throwing kind. The combination of spectacle, talent, and eagerness to incite is impossible to ignore here, and that’s fun. —Kelly McClure

Undoubtedly, your eyes and ears are already tuned to Chicago label Trouble In Mind if you favor psyched e lia-soaked, garage rock. TIM’s first offering of 2017 is The Paperhead’s fourth release with the independent label. Chew follows 2014’s brilliant Africa Avenue with a firmer grasp on the fuzzed and quirky elements that made their previous releases such a treat to listen to. When listening to Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs or Ptoof! by The Deviants, you embrace the experimentation that makes those records unique and singular. The Paperhead have taken the same approach. The single “Dama de Lavanda “ is a beautiful song that begins with vibraslap, trumpet, and wah-wah and ends with softly hummed vowels and wistful flute. Maybe you hate wistful flute; the next track grinds away and gives you something different and undeniably their own. Not unlike some of their contemporaries, such as Cass McCombs and Promised Land Sound, the emphasis on vintage equipment and well-crafted songs is employed without gimmicks or thinly veiled nostalgia. The Paperhead obviously spend a lot of time in the studio perfecting their sound, and it shows. If you can’t get enough Jacco Gardner, Gram Parsons, or The Pretty Things, this record will satisfy. —Emily Elhaj

Kara Stafford’s long-standing solo project Treadles has often taken a backseat to her work in local experimental rock band Woozy. Following Woozy’s recent demise, Stafford has given revived focus to Treadles, transforming it from a minimalist solo venture into a full band endeavor. With assistance from members of Sharks’ Teeth and Woozy, Slow Waker Demos adds a new depth to her traditionally bare-bones arrangements. On opener “Potential,” Stafford’s voice wobbles over a dreamy backdrop, far livelier than the slow-paced melancholy of her one-woman recording of the tune. Emily Hafner’s synth parts set a menacing vibe on “Debris,” nicely complementing Stafford’s atmospheric guitar playing. The songwriting is full of haunting melodies with an emotional edge. Most of the material treads similar waters as Woozy, bringing to mind the more melodic side of their chaotic and heavy tunes. “Pleasure and the Worry” oozes pretty melodies. On “Doctor Blind,” the band gives their grim-sounding take of a tune originally by Metric’s Emily Haines, abandoning the lavish production of the original in exchange for lo-fi spookiness. This demo covers a lot of ground: new songs, re-recordings of old ones, a cover tune, and even two noise tracks. Slow Waker Demos shows a lot of promise for Treadles and I eagerly await future releases. —William Archambeault

“Can you hear the sound of an enormous [demonstration] slamming in the depths of Hell?” Vägra, a new project from Gainesville, Florida, featuring members of Process, Vermin, and Ectoplasm, lays down a wall-of- noise, distortion-drenched raw punk attack on their first demo tape entitled “Demonstration 2016.” Vägra translates to “refuse” in Swedish and is also the title of a track by Swedish hardcore legends Disarm. Vägra embodies a faster Broken Bones-era Disclose colliding into Swedish dis-beat monsters Crudity and Discard. Urgent shouting, driving bass lines, cyclones of cacophonous guitars, and dead-on stopand- go song structures abound on this demo. Vägra ushers forth a new wave of Japanese-tinged, mangled hardcore that sounds the alarm to reactivate for all the noise punks who have been sitting silently over the last few years. I’ve personally witnessed a fair share of good bands emerge from Gainesville over the years, but the scene recently seems to be on life support. What’s left of it has unnecessarily dissected itself into a milieu of corresponding subgenres. Negative ranting aside, Vägra represents a fresh injection of punk into the Gainesville scene and, moreover, the American punk scene at large. The LP version of this demo drops imminently. —Dan McCoy

Mood swings are a grotesque understatement in modern master of suspense, M. Night Shyamalan’s newest nail-biter. James McAvoy (X-Men, Atonement) plays Kevin, who possesses 23 different personalities encompassing both sexes, various ages, and multiple backgrounds, such as the flamboyant fashion expert, Barry; 9 year old Kanye West fan, Hedwig; and middle-aged mother figure, Patricia. Shyamalan captures how quickly the identities can emerge in the opening of the film when Kevin, now Barry, drugs and kidnaps three high school girls after a birthday dinner. Heroine Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch) doesn’t know who or what she’s up against as she combats Kevin’s multiple identities. Also masterfully directed is the wonderful dynamic between Kevin and his psychiatrist, played by Betty Buckley (Carrie, The Happening). Her conflict centers around when to draw the line between professional and personal when deciphering Kevin’s personalities. Thematically, the film explores the idea of what is “normal” in society, as well as the complexity of the human mind. Does Kevin suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder, or does he thrive with it? Overall, Split is a well-written, intense thriller with exceptional acting and edge-of-your-seat suspense. —Morgan Lawrence

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