This Week’s Best Albums: September 4, 2012

This Week's Best Albums: September 4, 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.

No Spill Blood: Street Meat (Sargent House)

"Good Company"

Based in Dublin, Ireland, and vivisected from experimental and noise-rock champions Adebisi Shank, Elk, Magic Pockets, and others, No Spill Blood already has a momentum that has launched it straight to the top of the mighty Sargent House roster.

On its inaugural Street Meat EP, the trio keeps the bass guitar low and loud on the register, giving a jarring, dissonant, Melvins-like depth to the album. Thick, buzzing synths add both atmosphere and a cosmic progressive element, which is visually reflected in Sonny Kay’s pseudo-psychotropic cover art. Without the synthesized textures, No Spill Blood might run the risk of falling flat as another noise-rock duo, but the band manages to pull off in three what other bands hardly can do with five.

- Benjamin van Loon

Clark: Fantasm Planes (Warp)

"Fantasm Planes"

Electronic composer Clark’s new EP, Fantasm Planes, is like a conjoined twin to this year’s Iradelphic LP, except somewhat slighter in frame and more likely to be found at the club (dragging Ira along, to her dismay). The six-song EP takes “Henderson Wrench,” “Com Touch,” and “Secret” from Iradelphic and explores alternative versions to each, the dials twisting until everything’s a little more blown out, a little more aggressive.

The other three tracks are new but are similarly produced: Clark’s buckling melodies on ecstasy and Jack-and-Cokes. The deep bass beats are persistent but interestingly used, with enough complexity and one-off sections to make the moment in “Com Re-Touch / Pocket for Jack” where a straight beat comes in all the more surprising.

- Timothy A. Schuler

Animal Collective: Centipede Hz (Domino)

"Today's Supernatural"

Over the course of more than a decade, Animal Collective has been all over the sound map. So in follow-up to critically acclaimed 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion, it’s expected that the collective would do something divergent from Merriweather’s accessible, ambient electronic pop. Centipede Hz is not only the first album to feature all four members since Strawberry Jam (2007), but it’s also the first album since Feels (2005) that has the band writing all together in the same space.

That mood translates to a sharp, metallic quality about the record, as if the electronic elements were run through frayed coil wiring soldered back together. Whereas Merriweather is digitally atmospheric and ambient, Centipede is raw and energetic with distortion and analogue synths.

Album opener “Moonjock” assaults with a cacophony of static-drenched drums before moving into splatters of arpeggio melodies and David "Avey Tare" Portner’s vocal runs. “Moonjock” is followed immediately by the even louder but inherently catchy “Today’s Supernatural.” Portner stutters his way into a seesaw of bright electronic textures and rhythmic bongos. His vocals are clear and defined, perpetually wired into the static discharge that energizes the musical landscape.

- Michael Nolledo

Honorable Mentions:

Azure Ray: As Above So Below (Saddle Creek)

Cat Power: Sun (Matador)

Deerhoof: Breakup Song (Polyvinyl)

Mono: For My Parents (Temporary Residence)

Propagandhi: Failed States (Epitaph)

Raymond Byron & The White Freighter: Little Death Shaker (Asthmatic Kitty)

Saturnian: Dimensions (Indie Recordings)

Staff Benda Bilili: Bouger le Monde (Crammed)

Stu Bangas & Vanderslice: Diggaz with Attitude (Man Bites Dog)

Two Gallants: The Bloom and the Blight (ATO)

Wax Poetic: On a Ride (Nublu)