KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Lars Gotrich

Erin Rae makes quiet music for the mind swept into a torrent. It'd be easy to call her sound escapist, as her gentle voice offers a balm over softly strummed guitar and brushed percussion. But Rae also unearths uneasy revelations with hard wisdom, in particular in Putting On Airs, her new album.

To twist a meme normally reserved for Drake, get you a Rosali Middleman because she can do both. The Philly-based musician leads Long Hots, the chooglin' psych-rock trio featuring members of Spacin' and Hothead. Grab a tallboy; this is music that boogies your brain into heavy hypnosis.

If you haven't heard Bad Breeding's Divide, it is 26 minutes of grueling, noise-punctured punk that channels and couples the rage of Crass to the weirdness of Killing Joke and No Trend. Released in 2017, it was the second album in two years from the U.K. punk band.

Look, let's just puff-puff right past the 4/20 jokes, OK? There's no reason to toke up all of your time with silliness when you could be nodding your head (slowly) to Sleep's first album since Dopesmoker, considered by many to be the high-water mark of stoner-metal epics. (Its release date is something of a rabbit hole — if you're interested, here.)

Crank "Up The Street" to a volume that shakes the dust from your creaky bones. Made stiff from years of rock and roll neglect, you are now redeemed by the nasty howl and stomp of Rat the Magnificent. Hallelujah and hot damn.

When Joey Ramone sang, "I wanna be your boyfriend," The Ramones tapped into bubblegum pop's naïveté with a rosy-cheeked hiccup. When GRLwood's Rej Forester sings the line, at first with a little nod to Joey's Buddy Holly impression, she eventually screams it with all of the pent-up rage of someone who just wants a woman to dump her dude, but also is pretty damn tired of being ignored by society.

Stephanie Richards' trumpet sounds like deep space wrapped around your head, a flood in the endless void.

Turnstile's music swirled just as much as it pounded, turning some of the stranger, studio-driven moments of its recent album Time & Space into a live-action stage match. As the band explored every inch of the worn hardwood at All Souls Unitarian Church in Northwest Washington, D.C., stirring up heart rates and exalting the moment, one body would jump from the stage and be immediately replaced by another, all in constant motion.

Cecil Taylor encompasses a never-ending range of sound and emotion. On his way to the Piano Jazz studio in 1994, the avant-garde jazz pianist and his cab driver discovered that they went to the same high school, opening up a whirlwind of small worlds, and inspiring the improvised piece that opens this episode.

There is no one universe for Ben LaMar Gay, he just sonic booms from one sound to another. His solo debut, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, is really a patch-work of seven albums, recorded over seven years but never released. It moves from fuzz-caked weirdo-psych to mutant synth-funk to giddy electronics to progressive jazz at a seamless, whiplash-free warp speed.

The fruit borne from Cate Le Bon and White Fence's Tim Presley in the last few years have been strange and delightful hybrids — like little pluots of avant-pop and post-punk. Hermits on Holiday, their 2015 debut album together as Drinks, directly influenced Le Bon's 2016 album Crab Day and takes an adventurous left-turn that has nooks and crannies I'm still discovering.

There is a ceiling-gazing quality to Juliana Daugherty's songs — that's not an attempt at coining a new, fake genre, but a functional image. Light is the singer's first solo album after playing around the Charlottesville, Va. folk scene. Having spent a little time with Light, I just want to curl up in a circle of pillows and stare upwards at eggshell paint that could so easily be cracked by the quiet and contemplative poetry Daugherty sings with gentle, but aching lilt.

Wild Animals must have fans all over the world. No less than seven record labels spread across the U.S., Spain, Italy, Chile and Japan are co-releasing The Hoax; a lot of people really want you to hear the Madrid trio's new album, which recalls Superchunk's crunchy pop-punk and Bob Mould's triumphant, post-Hüsker Dü jangle with Sugar.

Sarah Louise must have a sick sense of humor, or just perfectly inappropriate timing: The second day of spring has been welcomed with heavy snow on the East Coast, and I am grumpy about it. But dangit, her new song helping keep the soul toasty.

Aisha Burns' heart was like a glass emptying and filling itself. Her mother had died, but she had also found love in a new relationship, all at once. The conflicting emotions would be enough for any heart to spill over with grief and joy, but Burns channeled it all into her new project.

The members of Wax Chattels introduce "In My Mouth" as "our homage to Auckland's best dive bar." If that's the case, this dive bar has been shattered, battered and fried into a post-punk surrender. No survivors, just a fluorescent strip dangling from the ceiling, flickering the remnants of a crazed brawl.

I'd missed half the set. There was a long line outside around the corner for the headliner, a group of pretty boys who make pretty boy pop-rock. (That's not a knock, just not what I came for.) When I finally made my way into the venue, members of The Aces were just starting to play "Just Like That." It wasn't the boisterous hit, but captured an essence of the group: a band formed in the members' tweens and the confidence and camaraderie that comes with their longevity.

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