Friendbeast, Hive Bent, Expert Alterations, and Y.L.O.

FriendbeastFirst EP

This female-fronted, politically minded punk quartet delivers a thundering jolt on its debut. Its four songs move from crust-punk stomp ("A Life of Rot and Decay") to the anti-animal-testing ear-poke of "Disgusting Beauty," which includes the marvelous sarcastic spoken-word moment in the middle: "Oh my, those cosmetics have done wonders to hide your disgusting mind." Amebix is arguably the blueprint for the ideas and sound here, but Friendbeast brings a welcome dose of sludge-y riffs to the sound, from the head-banging breakdowns in "Shadows Across the Desert" to the EP-ending standout, "Control," which is nearly three minutes of bruise and stomp over which vocalist Koala Largess sing-speaks lyrics in an "HC Rebellion" deadpan before screaming "You want to control me?"—a question that lands like a punch to the throat. (

Hive BentDyatlov

New Day Rising Records

If this five-song EP is any indication, this duo of Steph F. (bass guitar and vocals) and Kyle B. (drums) was raised on a steady diet of 1990s Touch and Go Records' big-bore rock and early 2000s Providence noise assaults. What the duo adds to that mix is an uncanny sense of melody and groove. Dyatlov finds the duo laying down an eardrum pummeling that flowers into moments of disarming beauty: "Fedora" opens in a tranquil confusion, like waking up with a modest hangover, which settles into a calm before exploding into a fraught chorus—that suspected hangover really an aneurysm about to burst. "Liar" is the standout here: a full-on, Helmet-like morass of sneer and throb. Hive Bent plays the Metro Gallery July 17. (

Expert AlterationsExpert Alterations

This five-song cassette hits the ears like manna from heaven for anybody with a weakness for 1980s kiwi pop. This trio has the permanently rainy day mood, jangly guitar sustain, and jaunty depression down pat, and some of the songs here sound like they could've fit comfortably in any Flying Nun compilation from way back when. "Midnight Garden" comes to life with a sauntering bass line that's joined by a skipping back beat and sheets of ringing melancholic guitar and the vocalist trying his best not to sound too happy about feeling sad, while "Memory Glands" hijacks the opening guitar mood of Pulp's "Common People" and turns it into an introvert's bliss. The band includes Baltimore Popfest founder Paul Krolian, so the impeccable taste isn't a surprise. More of this, please. Expert Alterations plays the Ottobar June 15. (

Y.L.O.No Love City

Scrolling Bandcamp for locals bands has become as curveball rewarding as flipping through 7-inches was for some of us crate diggers who appreciate a good surprise, and this free-download of an EP is the great argument for giving something that looks kinda interesting a spin. The Bandcamp page for this release includes a photo of the cassette itself, its cover art a hand-drawn skull with YLO written in the kind of fancy script typically found on Dio LPs. The tracks themselves are a hypnotic blend of minimal house, hide-the-razor-blades bleak R&B, and ambient ooze. An email from the group informed that it's a collaboration between some Baltimore and Chicago producers who just want to combine their interests in Psychic TV and black metal. It shows: "Trauma," which says it features Shorty Rough, is a stark house beat aggressively stripped down, over which somebody—presumably the aforementioned Shorty Rough—exhales counterpoint rhythms to the groove. Eventually a synthesizer wash comes in, followed by background vocals that sound like they're being sung through a mouth gag. And it continues this sensually scary vibe for nearly six minutes. "Negative Zone Prison" is even more seductively intense: It's little more than a blown-out pulse establishing a low-end pulse behind an electronic drum kick, but it sounds like the soundtrack music accompanying a drug buy in some futuristic dystopia. If the thought of The Weeknd doing a sci-fi horror soundtrack sounds appealing, look no further.

Copyright © 2018, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy