• Good holy God is this JAW GEMS EP decent. The six-song debut dropped last week to near-instant web apoplexy; we've since been test-driving it as a soundtrack to various workday fantasies, and it works way well. The quartet here are in peak form, dropping serious, dedicated mutations of psyched-out, left-field hip hop replete with jazz vocab and holistic rock sensibilities, the touchstones somewhere in the range of J Dilla, Madlib, the Stones Throw catalogue, etc. Titled Take a Sip of My Wish, it's basically must-hear. Our impressions are thus: hooked by the production values and posi- vibes of opener "Star Visor," a brash, shamelessly jerky melody striding into a woozy, clattering hoopla of synths and effects. On "It's Morning Forever," Ahmad Hassan Muhammad marries a gorgeously lyrical Wurlitzer line to DJ Moore's skittering, seasick snare rhythm, and really — some local org should nab "Baleen" for a commercial before Urban Outfitters does it first. It's a tired cliché; wouldn't say it if we didn't mean it: we knew they were good, but we didn't know they were this good. Visit jawgems.bandcamp.com and remember to toss 'em a few bucks.
• There appears to be a new big-ticket metal band in town, THE RANCOURTS, featuring ex- and current members of the Baltic Sea, Colepitz, Rustic Overtones/Paranoid Social Club, and Headstart. Judging from the one song released, the Rancourts play galloping, low-end driven metal in the style of Mastodon or Rush, production aesthetic way high. Only one track available so far, but evidence of a bigger thing lurks in the shadows . . . check therancourts.bandcamp.com for more.
• Those who daily visit the weblog/label Sloow Tapes have already learned of the new PLANETS AROUND THE SUN release. Those in between modems hear this: Ram of Heart and the Earthen Chariot is a 75-edition cassette of folk/drone improv material recorded in barns and wigwams just prior to their "indefinite tour" of the US. Definitely hear some pop influence in the very listenable "Sunshooter;" see their bandcamp for a taste before visiting sloowtapes.blogspot.com.
• A slick new video from the pop-punk band STEINER STREET is up at puregrainaudio.com, a national music site, for their song "Fish in a Barrel." The song's a brisk romp of faithful, upbeat pop-punk with shouted vocals and lots of go! moments. The video, produced by Crash Boom Bang Media and slickly shot by Joel Messer, shows the four dudes making the Portland rounds and banging out the track in a garage. (I didn't know the drummer sang!) Visit steinerstreetpunk.com for that and more info on their new full-length, Time and Temperature.