San Diego Post-Post-Punks Mix Oxygen and Pasta Into Science Experiments

Kill Me Tomorrow

The Garbageman and the Prostitute

Gold Standard Laboratories

This coed San Diego trio loves keeping things dense and congested: Guitar lines and random clanks repeat themselves, warped and off-key, accidentally stumbling into melody and rhythm, under super-detached chants from a flat male whining his patter in a funklessly affected manner that recalls late-’80s Brits of the Membranes/Big Flame/Age of Chance stripe and occasionally gets counterpointed by a vibrating female. Techno glitches and dub blackouts and cover versions (Suicide on last year’s EP, Captain Beefheart here) unclog the drain and let in some air, but the bass and guitar swing with hands stuck in pockets, and everything gets smudged to hell, burbling like an art or science project.

The CD booklet tells you who’s supposedly narrating each song’s plot: a porn star, an army private, a “flesh farmer,” “President Howard ‘Hot Head’ Maple III.” Interesting characters (sort of like Neil Young’s on Greendale!), but all moot points, since you can only make out a few of their disconnected phrases: “I’ve got 100 grand in the car.” “Did I tell you we’ve got cable now?” One of the shortest and most static (and best) tracks has somebody babbling about tossing macaroni and ravioli out the window. And oh yeah, there’s also a bonus DVD—loaded with videos that make even less sense than the songs.

Chicago Post-Post-Punks Dance Awkwardly Around the Corner In Smoke

Red Eyed Legends

The High I Feel When I’m Low

Gold Standard Laboratories

Five more post-post-punk kids (this time from Chicago with roots in Omaha) try to dance with angst in their pants—stretching vowels like Mark E. Smith, trudging like very early Sonic Youth, lurking around the corner down a dark alleyway whilst murmuring through nerdy noses or greased-up fish-eye lenses like the Germs or Electric Eels. The title cut has a purposefully inept Zeppelin pastiche that keeps reappearing out of the goth murk; the two catchiest songs—one surf-motioned, one rant-shouted—close the proceedings, and even those get submerged under liquid smoke. In the “Super Indoor Version” of “Hamilcus,” rattling chains and snapping fingers stop dead for potholes in your lawn, then disintegrate into nothing but minimalistic noise and parasitic silence. Somehow, it works.

Los Angeles Post-Post-Punks Munch Cactus in the Kitchen With the Tombstone Blues

The Starvations, post-climax exhausted

photo: GSL

The Starvations

Get Well Soon

Gold Standard Laboratories

In which Los Angeles youngsters blatantly worship at their city’s old Flesheaters/ Zarkons/Tex and the Horseheads noir-blues hell-comes-to-your-house altar, which is to say they pray for the same cornball lost-weekend drunk-at-dusk mood that Raymond Chandler and Jim Morrison and (face it buddy) the Eagles had. Two twanging axes skirt zydeco, rockabilly, Saudi Arabia, gypsy restaurants, Ennio Morricone, Kurt Weill, and Lonnie Mack, making sure the resulting clippity-clop registers as “hard rock” more than “vaudeville camp” even despite all the old-timey embellishments (military drums, rusty cash-register plinks, Vanessa Gonzales’s accordion and piano), not to mention despite Gabriel Hart constantly werewolfing his howls around cacti and sagebrushes and tombstones of the rising sun. The goofball even sings about playing “hide-and-go-seek in the graveyard,” but the music rarely dirges out, and there’s humanity and even humor in the hackneyed routine. “Recipe for a Mess” concerns some Courtney Love type tripling her dosage then ringing the singer’s doorbell for two hours then passing out in her car; the song that goes “please don’t give me an American funeral” deserves its own Sopranos scene, and it’s followed immediately by the most funereal intro on the album. And finally, the excellently titled “Post Climax Exhaustion”—which moans “now that it’s over, I lay next to her,” but, surprise!, isn’t a necrophilia song—saves the album’s lushest and most heavily guitared raveup for the end.