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April 2008

Signal To Noise
Future of the Left: Curses (Too Pure Records)

Formed from the ashes of the late great Welsh trio Mclusky, Future of the Left have crafted one of the most exciting rock records in years with their phenomenal debut Curses. Fans of Mclusky’s particular brand of absurdist hardcore will definitely find much to like here, but FOTL venture into more adventurous territory and show much more range as a result. The dense production by Richard Jackson gives the band a fuller, more muscular sound than the legendary Steve Albini’s stark work with Mclusky. The intense opener “Lord Hates A Coward” is a slow-grinding metal masterpiece that gives way to “Plague of Onces,” a raging punk rave-up where singer/guitarist Andy "Falco" Falkous and singer/bassist Kelson Mathias scream something at each other about putting “the bodies where the bodies don’t wanna go.” They try out math rock on the noodly “My Gymnastic Past” and even craft a potential hit single with the freakishly catchy “Wrigley Scott” (though its chances of rock radio success are likely hampered by the fact that it’s about a wizard and an elf who hang out and eat sausage on a stick). The two best songs on Curses barely sound like they’re from the same band. “Suddenly It’s A Folk Song” is a melancholy, synth driven post-punk track that sounds like a particularly heavy Joy Division or Echo & The Bunnymen b-side. Then there’s “Real Men Hunt In Packs,” a sinister boogie-woogie stomp in which Falkous howls surrealistic nonsense about spending “thirty eight minutes in a chicken's nightmare” like Bon Scott if he was more into Salvador Dali than Jack Daniels.

The Dirtbombs: We Have You Surrounded (In The Red Records)
First things first: yes, Alan Moore wrote one of these songs. “Leopardman at C&A” was originally written years ago for goth legends Bauhaus when old Al was taking a break from worshipping Roman snake deities and being the best comic book writer ever. Despite its unlikely origins, the song fits like a glove into the oeuvre of these Detroit garage rock legends. We Have You Surrounded is a different beast than 2003’s poppy Dangerous Musical Noise or 2001’s soulful Ultraglide In Black. It’s more paranoid and even more stripped-down than their already skeletal signature sound. Danceable, high energy tunes like “Ever Lovin’ Man” and “Wreck My Flow” are sure to please longtime Dirtbombs devotees, but atmospheric mid-tempo growers like the Sparks cover “Sherlock Holmes” give the record a timelessness that only the best garage rock can attain. Overall, We Have You Surrounded is a dark, moody listen, but it closes on a hopeful note with the strummy, soothing “Le Fin du Monde.” Actually, it’s in French so I really don’t know if it’s hopeful or not. It could be another harrowing descent into isolation disguised as frilly pop music.


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