Modern West Coast Noise Rock
Ah, noise: It's everywhere, and honestly, it's always been everywhere. Post-millennium and post-Wolf Eyes, we're less afraid to slap that label on pre-existing genres, curl upper lips and crank the volume higher. Whatever noise we're talking about -- noise-rap, noise-rock, noise-folk, noise-drone or just straight noise -- NYC is the undeniable epicenter. Yet the West Coast more than holds its own, offering a wide range of rabid flavors.
Anyone who has not been exposed to The Icarus Line should be, at least once ("Spit On It"): At their least forgiving, experiencing them is like being broiled alive in an oven. Currently celebrating 30 years together, Smegma (["Up There"]) are almost The Residents of pure noise, cobbling together Pynchon-esque epics out of everything from prepared piano to ragged percussion to tape-collage perversions to drug-fueled chicanery. The dizzyingly prolific John Wiese specializes in mind-bending static studies.
On the more melodic side of things, No Age are all about spluttered deconstructed takes on pogo pop-punk, like on "My Life's Alright Without You," and the late Coach Whips preach a no-fi garage gospel with "Your Party Will Be a Success." Deerhoof chase their art-rock muse all over the map, but they're never as captivating as when the band abandons all but the slightest pretense to accessibility and leaps into the wild ("Look Away"). Eat Skull and Love as Laughter serve up janky, junkyard slop with a smile. Don't get too enthused, though: The Hospitals and Big City Orchestra are ready and waiting, in their own disparate and idiosyncratic ways, to wipe that grin right off your smug mug.