Nov. 24 2015 04:00 PM

A periodic roundup of new local digital releases

If you search for albums tagged "San Diego" on Bandcamp, you'll find some interesting stuff. In this semi-regular report, we sift through recent postings and relay the findings.

Astronaut Campfire Hymns, Hospital Birthday Cake: Both the name of the artist and the album sound like random strings of nouns, but despite the seemingly Dadaist aesthetic of Hospital Birthday Cake's presentation, the music is actually quite stunning. A mixture of found-sound samples and dark ambience, the album is rich in eerie atmosphere, warm textures and crackly samples. "We Went to the Park and Fed the Ducks" is alternately terrifying and comforting, while "Obliviates" is dense and hypnotic. This isn't immediate music, but it's certainly captivating.

, Streetcleaner:
Based on the artist's name, I was expecting something more like industrial metal outfit Godflesh. Instead, Streetcleaner makes a stylish and high-energy kind of synthwave that's inspired in equal parts by '80s EBM-industrial music and Nicholas Winding-Refn's Drive. It's darkly romantic, and fit to become a soundtrack to a noir film yet to be made.

, Retra:
The opening whirr of white noise that begins "London, Idaho," the first track on Retra's Push, has a similar effect to that of Radiohead's "Planet Telex," so you'll forgive me if I was half expecting the band to erupt into a similar kind of spacey alt-rock. It doesn't, obviously, but the band's moody sound does have a little bit of Radiohead's melancholy, blended with the gothic atmosphere of The Cure and the mainstream muscle of Incubus, but with female vocals. It's OK.

Act Your Age, Bad Kids: Of the 11 songs on this release, five are less than two minutes long, and not a single one of them crosses the three minute mark. That's just as well, because Bad Kids play surf-inspired punk that works best in small doses. In their best moments, they recall the Pixies, but most of the time they come across like your neighbor's garage band with a little more reverb.

Post Modem, russy: Every time I do this exercise, I find more beatmakers in town that I've never heard of before. Even more impressive is just how many of them are actually really good. Like russy, for instance, whose new full-length is an ominous and richly textured set of IDM and glitch that has all the conceptual weirdness of Oneohtrix Point Never with the eerie sensibility of Aphex Twin. Didn't take long to win me over.


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