This Week’s Best Albums: November 27, 2012

This Week's Best Albums: November 27, 2012

Each week, editor-in-chief Chris Force and music editor Scott Morrow choose ALARM’s favorite new releases for This Week’s Best Albums, an eclectic set of reviews presenting exceptional music.

Don Caballero: Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live (Joyful Noise)

"Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex"


In 2003, explosive and incendiary Don Caballero drummer Damon Che reformed his beloved math-rock outfit. What followed, captured here in its infancy, was a heavier, catchier, and more powerful Don Cab, which went on to release two masterful "comeback" albums on Relapse Records.

Gang Banged with a Headache, and Live is a single-set live recording from back in '03. Naturally, it showcases Che's relentless, twisting rock beats, but it also gives a live perspective of the polyrhythmic guitar work and deep bass tones that are so crucial to the band.

And though the new lineup — here a quartet before paring down to a trio — performs old favorites from What Burns Never Returns and American Don, it includes two killer cuts from World-Class Listening Problem, the 2006 album that reintroduced the band and what it could do. If you haven't experienced Don Cab live, you'd do well to check this out.

- Scott Morrow

House of Hayduk: City of Quartz (Koolarrow)

Stemming from the music-production house of the same name that scores films and commercials, House of Hayduk is an instrumental project helmed by Danish/American composer Mads Heldtberg. This super-limited "debut" — released as only 500 copies on 180g vinyl with a download code — is rooted in that sort of production/library sound, but it stretches much further.

City of Quartz's four long-form pieces began in a New York recording session between Heldtberg, Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, and This Heat drummer Charles Hayward. From there, they were reassembled and "designed" with a wealth of contributions, including from producer Anders Trentemøller, violinist Timba Harris (Estradasphere, Secret Chiefs 3), drummer BJ Miller (Health), and multi-instrumentalist Dean Hurley (David Lynch).

In summarizing the sound, "experimental rock" might be the catchall term of choice. It doesn't do it justice, of course, especially when the short "movements" of each piece morph or abruptly transition every few minutes. Ranging from 9 to 15 minutes, the tracks are full of grooves, noise, melodies, and organic and synthesized timbres, shifting from amorphous ambience to rock-fueled mixtures of reverb- and whammy-laden guitar chords, distorted bass rumbles, and rolling snare cadences. Recommended for noise-rock and soundscape geeks.

- Scott Morrow

Honorable Mentions:

Amenra: Mass V (Neurot)

Departures: Teenage Haze (No Sleep)

Foxtails Brigade: Time is Passed

Joan of Arc: s/t limited-edition vinyl (Joyful Noise)

Mammoth Mammoth: Volume III: Hell’s Likely (Napalm)

My Education: A Drink for All My Friends (Headbump)

Offshore: Bake Haus (Big Dada)

The VSS: Nervous Circuits + 25:37 discography reissue (Sargent House)

John Zorn: The Concealed (Tzadik)