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Zen Dicks and Mercenary Whispers 

Wednesday, Apr 2 2014

A common rock narrative goes like this: Isolated visionary tracks opus of odd logic and alienation on a tape machine in the bedroom, then assembles live band to tour the tortured solipsism live. On the West Coast, this backstory is typically attached to sensitive and introverted fellows. Not so for Cleveland's Obnox, the solo outlet of Bim Thomas, alum of storied Ohio bands The Bassholes, Puffy Aerolas, and This Moment in Black History. Thomas records himself because he holds most of the music industry in contempt. He actually deserves the maverick tag that publicists so often like to apply to hiss-beholden proponents of light psychedelia. Last year's Corrupt Free Enterprise is a rhapsodic double album of feral garage tempered by blustery soul flourishes. "Deep in the Dusk" is a menacing hip-hop track that clips out and bleeds. Each of the four sides of Corrupt Free Enterprise plays out like its own worthy statement. G. Green and Useless Eaters open for Obnox on Thursday, April 3, at the Hemlock.

Gary Floyd's visual art presents a world of deviance and deliverance done in collage, mixed-media, and drawings, all awash in dreamy pastel colors. Best known as the vocalist of San Francisco-by-way-of-Austin punk band The Dicks, it's not surprising that Floyd's art is transgressive. Crudely composed penises accompany scribbled Zen phrases on cardboard. Explicit photographs lay like idols in the center of urban detritus. Such salacious imagery is expected, but the great pleasantry of it all actually lends Floyd's work its magnetism. His peaceful colors and positive sloganeering look nearly childish, which softens the graphic content and suggests Floyd's serene attitude toward the sexuality and identity that he used to source for rage. Gary Floyd's art opening is Friday, April 4, at 1-2-3-4-Go! Records in Oakland.

Los Angeles electronic duo Soft Metals pulls from the breezy repetition and silken vocals of ambient house, but its lyrics tend to wax philosophical. The group is more likely to position itself in the lineage of 20th century minimalism than, say, Brit ambient house originators The Orb. In that way, Soft Metals emphasize a mellowed strain of backdrop electronic music and a cerebral one where form follows content. At the Rickshaw Stop on Sunday, April 6, with Max & Mara and Intimatchine, Soft Metals might split the dancefloor in two.

Norwegian artist Jenny Hval's sophomore album, Innocence is Kinky, supplies erudite lyrics about mythology and identity politics, but it's an absolute pleasure to hear her unpack. Hval's voice is a mercenary whisper and disembodied phantom belied by sparse electronics, the odd rock touch, and jarring samples. The studio left-turns and cutups showcase producer John Parish as well, whose collaboration with PJ Harvey on 2009's A Woman a Man Walked By is an apt companion album from one of Hval's close forebears. Hval plays with Mark McGuire at the Chapel on Wednesday, April 9.

About The Author

Sam Lefebvre


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