French connection

Wax Tablet
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  June 6, 2012

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• Milled Pavement re-released an EP by the industrious rapper BRZOWSKI this week — Songs for Marty, a collaboration between Brzo and the French rapper Monsieur Sai, was originally issued in limited quantities in France only by the label Good Citizen Factory. The label boasts "harsh, intricate synthesized production" behind dense, left-political lyricism, two of the Portland MC's hallmarks. Available digitally and on CD; more info at milledpavement.com.

• Don't want to pour too much oil on the WHIP HANDS hype machine, but fans of the slash-and-burn punk band should look into the low-profile side project issued by frontman STERLING BLACK. The 17-track monster, titled Compuksion, is a moody and personal tour through various corridors of post-punk, a bit more experimental and brooding than Whip Hands, but more structurally ambitious as well. A lot of this is lo-fi, guitar-driven Wipers-worship — never a bad thing — as performed from the bedroom, but Mr. Black puts enough weirdo filters on the album to make it a memorable, meaningful listen. "Mary's Bone Folder" unfurls its first 90 seconds in a bleakly catchy trot — like Greg Sage fronting Blank Dogs, perhaps — before Sterling reverses the drum track and blows the momentum to hell. "Sick I Miss (Remember/React)" is an amped-up downer anthem before dissolving into a lonely, skeletal outro. In fact, much of Compuksion follows suit: dark, propulsive song collages of catchy, riff-driven sections — linked conceptually rather than harmonically — which fuzz out into messy, disjointed endings. Black sets aside the distortions for "Hey Christie" and "Sad Bastard Muzak" — two lyrical, mutated-acoustic tracks buried halfway in and the record's most self-consciously emotional points — before "Never Again" and "Burnt Drone Punx" reclaim the scorching approach he began with. A mercurial, dark, and poetic record and a colossal effort from Black, highly recommended for those who appreciate rock forms with virtually no regard for current market forces. Downloadable for pennies at sterlingblack.bandcamp.com.

• Whoawee was that SUNSET HEARTS show at SPACE fun. Despite buckets of rain falling outside, a near-full house came to see the dynamic pop nonet romp through the tracks on their laudable new EP Deco Tech (reviewed lovingly by Sam Pfeifle in the May 25 issue and available for cheap download at sunsethearts.bandcamp.com). We were equally excited by the show's format — six bands staggered between the gallery's two rooms — which kept energy high on an otherwise soggy night. Good to see more bands experimenting with out-of-the-box rock-show formats. For another example, see the rooftop show at Mathew's this Sunday, which looks to be a loud and nasty retort to the traditional fanfare of the Old Port Fest.


Tastes of summer: Here's the rest of what to expect

June 15 @ Big Easy | ZACH JONES releases Things Were Better, a soul- and R&B-flavored follow up to his more pop-rock Fading Flowers. Bull Moose's Chris Brown noted after his acoustic in-store performance that the set inspired at least one person to buy two Al Green records. Great endorsement there.

June 15 @ Racks | BETTER THAN release their relatively brief EP Tilting at Windmills with an all-ages gig featuring Loki, Steiner Street, For the Record, and Beware of Pedestrians.

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