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SHORT REVIEWS

“Lynch” channels the legendary filmmaker’s soundtracks, notably the dark, smoky sounds of Angelo Badalamenti. “Miss Chan,” featuring guitar virtuoso Marc Ribot on a slithering solo, mimics the Eastern koto from Stefana’s “banjolin.” And the spy-thriller sounds of “Prairie Fire” make masterful use of Ipecac label head Mike Patton. Yet Stefana is a master himself, traversing swaths of well-reverberated terrain with his banjo, electric and acoustic guitars, lap-steel guitar, and piano. By the time the album closes, the listener is well aware of his range, but a cover of Santo & Johnny Farina’s classic “Sleep Walk” is an apt conclusion to a dreamy, cinematic journey. –Scott Morrow

How to Dress Well: Total Loss (Acephale)

In 2009, songwriter and producer Tom Krell infiltrated web space from Brooklyn to Berlin with a set of digital EPs under the pseudonym How to Dress Well. Just a year later, the one-man outfit debuted his first studio album, Love Remains, which established Krell as a forerunner in experimental R&B. Recorded in part in Brooklyn, Chicago, Nashville, and London while Krell worked towards earning a graduate degree in philosophy, Total Loss captures what he describes as a period of loss and depravity in his life. As on Love Remains, Krell utilizes electronic and ambient sounds to produce detail-rich compositions, channeling the aforementioned distress into multilayered, ethereal arrangements interlaced with high-pitched, resonant vocals. Hip-hop and neo-soul influences appear as well, but no matter the outside influence, Total Loss offers a unique and wistful indulgence. – Megan Dawson

Indian Handcrafts: Civil Disobedience for Losers (Sargent House) If one is company, two is an all-out riot. That’s the reigning message championed by this newest effort from Indian Handcrafts, the Ontario-based duo of Brandyn James Aikins (drums) and Daniel Brandon Allen (guitar).

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With a decade of collaboration between them, Aikins and Allen teamed up in 2010 with one simple goal: to make some fucking noise. They self-released their first, self-titled Indian Handcrafts album in 2011, soon signing to Sargent House, where they joined the ranks of other noise-rock behemoths—an influence that’s honed and refined on Civil Disobedience for Losers. At 40 minutes, this 11-track onslaught shows that you don’t need a brigade to have an arsenal. Engineered by Toshi Kasai (Tool, Melvins, Big Business), Civil Disobedience is heavy on the homage, making connections with other power duos like Big Business and Death from Above 1979, though the duo owes much of its sound (and philosophy) to The Melvins, even down to the process—the overdubs for the album were recorded in The Melvins’ rehearsal space. Whereas tracks like “Worm in My Stomach” and “Coming Home” recapitulate and subvert classic rock-’n’-roll structures, “Centauri Teenage Riot” and “Truck Mouth” blend together to form one giant, doped-out jam, relentless in its energy. Two is all you need. –Benjamin van Loon

Jerseyband: Forever Hammer When we last heard from “lungcore” septet Jerseyband, the NYC ensemble had self-released Beast Wedding, a monster of mutated metal that conjoined Meshuggah-like “djent” with unwieldy horn-formed power chords. Though elements of jazz have appeared on past albums, they’ve been fleeting. More commonly, the horns have been de-facto mathmetal riffs, circling and looping in complex sequences. The Forever Hammer EP, however, is book-ended by “Tosm” and “Not Hammer,” a pair of tracks that are more overt in jazz influence—at least of the skronky variety. Each ends with wailing, free-jazz sax solos, and “Not Hammer” in particular is the most improvised that we’ve heard a Jerseyband horn. “Together Forever” is even heavier on the brass, leaving the guitar, bass, and drums to

play minor (and mostly undistorted) roles, but it still only falls partially under jazz. As horns stab in syncopation and the clean-channel guitar builds the tension, the song transforms to full djent metal with a horn accenting atop. Bafflingly enough, Jerseyband remains without a label—perhaps too brassy for the metal labels, too heavy for the jazz labels. Forever Hammer might not be the best start for the uninitiated, but it’s still a mammoth piece of space debris, hurtling with ever-increasing speed. Grab it or get out of the way. –Scott Morrow

JJ Doom: Key to the Kuffs (Lex) In February, producer/rapper Jneiro Jarel and masked wordsmith MF Doom announced a collaborative album under the name JJ Doom, teasing us with “Banished” as well as a string of contributors such as Blur/Gorillaz front-man Damon Albarn, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, and Jarel’s old Willie Isz partner, Khujo Goodie. In August, the wait was over, as Key to the Kuffs finally got its release on Lex. The album offers everything you’d expect: Doom’s intricate, hyper-literate rhymes on top of Jarel’s future-retro sound. And Doom, naturally, doesn’t hold back: On “GMO,” he seethes about his frustration with the food industry, as Gibbons’ ghostly vocals hover throughout. Meanwhile, on “Banished,” he declares, “enough’s enough,” rapping about a dog-eatdog world with lightning-fast delivery. Recorded in Doom’s hometown of London, tracks like “Guv’nor” and “Rhymin’ Slang” ooze with British cultural references. And though JJ remained stateside, his futuristic hip-hop production holds a kinship with many of England’s risk-taking electronic artists. (The high-profile cameos don’t hurt the UK vibe either.) –Meaghann Korbel

Kid Koala: 12-Bit Blues (Ninja Tune) Canadian DJ/turntablist Eric San, better known as Kid Koala, has long been known for his eclectic collection of samples. Cartoon TV specials, old comedy sketches, bodily functions—you name it and he has chopped,

ALARM Magazine #40