City of Straw (Jagjaguwar, 04.2010)
For: AFCGT, These Are Powers, The Dead C
Byline: The noisiest, busiest, dirtiest no-wave noise punk this year in a year full of great noisy, busy, dirty no-wave noise punk albums.
Holy wow. Give me a second to compose my thoughts while I pick my guts off the floor. City of Straw is a massively disjointed, disemboweling masterpiece of snarling, minimalist electronic beats and precision timed noise terrorism. Distributed through Jagjaguwar after a long stint on Load and Oneida's Brah records (who own probably the coolest brand image imaginable), it is hard to imagine City of Straw fitting into the discography of the record label behind Bon Iver, Julie Doiron, and Okkervil River. Even as I write this, however, Jagjaguwar is in the process of distributing new albums and back catalogues of improvised noise giants The Dead C, Richard Youngs, not to mention their long-standing relationship with Oneida and the release of 2008's best slice of fuzz-pop Women. I suppose label acquisitions play little into the 8 + year existence of no-input art-squalor of Brooklyn's Sighthings. Sighthings sound like a bizarro-Nirvana, processing and capturing the massively dirty swells of fuzzed out power chords and playing them back through a million blinking sequencers in the catacomb-like sewers beneath New York City. Guitars are played like bowed violins of sweeping noise swells, resonating with a low end hum that give these waves of noise and a grimy, yet often inexplicably graceful, arc of distortion laden screeds. Beats split time and are triggered by live drumming spit glitched-out, drunken, binary manifestations of nightmares a la Burial meets Atari Teenage Riot (esp. on "Weehawken" and "Saccharine Traps". yikes.) "Sky Above Mud Below" is an anthem in the truest sense of the world with impossibly-fast triplets stereo pans along to Mark Morgan's tortured howl. Sighthings often sound like a band that is ostensibly immune to easy comparisons or relationship to anything considered pop music. But with a classic rock band three piece (guitars-vocals, bass, drums) and discernible verse-chorus song structures in a majority of the album it is clear that Sightings work with the same toolset that their labelmates own, but they constructed a mechanical, fire-breathing pterodactyl about the size of a young whale out of theirs.
P.S Did I mention this was produced by Andrew W.K? As if this couldn't get any more rad.