Plaster Hounds

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The latter portion of the Chromatics' 2000 debut included tracks like "Two of Every Creature" and "Fertile Future," where the combo flattened spiky, angular post-punk globules into a sludgy shag carpet stained with junkie dancer footprints. That mess has survived bandmember departure and arrival drama to inform the dull grooves of Plaster Hounds. Post membership trauma, head 'Matic Adam Miller remains, joined mostly by bassist Nat Sahlstrom and ex-Get Hustle drummer Ron Avila. The new rhythm section is at its snarling best on "Chalk Dust (Holy Water)" and "Garden," in which buzzing basslines strut over deceptively rudimentary drums, building a common front for Miller's muffled, affected yammer and snaky lead guitar lines. The references are thicker than flies on rotten fast food (Suicide, Sonic Youth), and the Chromatics even close Plaster Hounds with a Silver Apples cover. But from opener "Surrogate"'s slinky come-hither trudge to the sleazy electronic burble of "Jesus," the Chromatics' hung-over punk-dub is relentlessly unique, and pretty damn addictive. Sahlstrom and Avila effectively regulate Miller's more manic vocal tendencies, providing essential structural support to a musical style that's constantly threatening to fly off the handle. Plaster Hounds reaches the bottom of the slimy dub well with the crawling "Monarch," but even here there's an eventual payoff, the track degenerating into broken water mains of rhythm and steamy reverb madness.

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