Also: Roky Erickson, Unearth.


Outside Closer


It's always winter or late fall for Hood, and there isn't much to look at but the sky. While the tightly glitchy beats and crisp production on 2001's Cold House suggested the sharpness of a briskly cold day, Outside Closer's blurry new tracks paint in cloudier and more sluggish impressionist strokes. The older album's "No, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate" meeting with Anticon avant-rappers cLOUDDEAD seemed to indicate an exciting new direction for the electronica-inflected mope rockers: backpacker hip-hop and indie-laptopia proved to be two great tastes that taste great together. Instead, Outside Closer forsakes genre-expanding experimentation, pulling the covers over its head and staying in bed. The Saddest Music in the World's Canadians in disguise have nothing on this Leeds band, and there likely isn't another that could pull off so convincing an imitation of Four Tet's Rounds as sung by New Order's Bernard Sumner and mixed by My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields. There's an initially alienating lack of sonic or lyric hooks to this album. But its foggy sound wash breaks down into carefully arranged acoustic and synthetic instrumentation with aural bright spots—horns that sound like ducks that sound like cellos, the surprise of a bass line welling up and then receding, the welcome distraction of hearing a squealing guitar in one channel and melody in the other—as points of unexpected consolation amid a comfortable bleakness. After a few listens you might start to wonder whether there isn't a fully formed philosophy of distance and time, space and light, and the ontology of love hidden on this album. Probably not, but it can still lend a certain pleasure to a dark day's moroseness. KRISTAL HAWKINS

Hood play Neumo's with Strategy and Origami Ghosts at 9 p.m. Tues., March 22. $6 adv./$7.

Roky Erickson

I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology

(Shout! Factory)

Even if the 13th Floor Elevators were not due serious exaltation for carrying the gonads of acid/psych rock in their collective flares, they would surely be due something for bringing an ordinary ceramic jug into the drop zone and making it sound like a butterfly attacking the inside of a floor tom. Great as they were, the Elevators were not meant to last; they had to break apart because singer/guitarist Roky Erickson had to break apart. In this case, a fried brain really did yield genius—but that's because the genius, to borrow from this two-disc set's awesome title, had always been there before. Whether with the pre-Elevators band the Spades, the extra acidy Bleib Alien ("Two-headed dog/Two-headed dog/I've been working in the Kremlin with a two-headed dog"), the only slightly less acidy Aliens (we learn in Bill Bentley's liner notes that the track we always thought was called "I Think of Demons" is actually called "I Think Up Demons"), or on his own, Erickson sought to experience and share a true religion of the soul ("True Love Cast Out All Evil") and to contain the evil spirits that the '60s invented ("Don't Shake Me Lucifer"). The miracle is that he did both—and survived prison, the nuthouse, and government-subsidized housing. Lots of newfangled weird Americans drop Erickson's name these days, so the release of this comprehensive collection is well timed. But a voice like this, carrying messages at once as paranoid and lucidly lovely as these, is never in or out of style. LAURA CASSIDY


The Oncoming Storm

(Metal Blade)

So talented, yet so generic: This will be the epitaph of metalcore, a popular extreme subgenre that's getting played out even faster than screamo because its executors stubbornly refuse to deviate from two basic methodologies: (a) classic, Mach 5, Maiden-style fret blazing that's disrupted by vicious, hardcore-derived breakdowns, or (b) what I just described, but with brutally off-key, anthemic "harmonies" capsizing the chorus, aka "pussy shit." Dreadful Goth-Fil-A headliner Atreyu have, um, perfected the latter approach, whereas New England quintet Unearth take the more dignified, traditionalist hard-ass tack. This worked as well as it possibly could on last year's enjoyable breakthrough, The Oncoming Storm; Buz McGrath and Ken Susi wrested the seven-string out of rap-metal's death grip and unleashed a few truly memorable, if not mind-blowingly original, dueling figures. The lads faithfully and passionately resuscitated '80s thrash for a modern audience—it's hard to keep your devil's horns under wraps during the familiar, ultraproficient fingering of "Failure" or "Zombie Autopilot"—but in doing so, they stunted their own voice. The syncopated chugga-chug breakdowns, although a genre staple, get rote after a while, and serviceably virile featherhead frontman Trevor Phipps is interchangeable with almost any other vocalist in the genre. Luckily, his impassioned manifest destiny screed on the single "The Great Dividers" coincides with the band's most propulsive, no-bullshit playing. So sure, Unearth do metalcore as well as any of their contemporaries. Sure, they slay on wax. But why funnel all that ability into a house with such a low ceiling? ANDREW BONAZELLI

Unearth play El Corazon with Atreyu, Norma Jean, and Scars of Tomorrow at 7 p.m. Tues., March 22. $15 adv./$17.

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