Sounding off: New sounds for the new year

It’s a new year, time for some new sounds. Check out these up-and-coming Vegas artists to watch in 2014:

SPIRITUAL SHEPHERD ( This trio of space cases blast off with guitars as afterburners and the stars above as their road map. The instrumental three-piece favors interstellar jams that are alternately dense and tensile, physically domineering and atmospheric.

Group members brand themselves a doom outfit, and true to that self-applied designation, they’re plenty skilled at conjuring a riff-heavy drone capable of eliciting grins of approval from Karma to Burn devotees.

But they also explore the outer fringes of that subgenre’s signature low-end rumble, such as on “Last Transmission,” which begins and ends in a spare, meditative lull, the time between the two spent rocketing through a whole galaxy of sound.

MALIKOR ( Malikor’s metaphysical electronica would have to be categorized as “intelligent dance music” a decade-and-a-half ago and maybe landed him a deal with Warp Records. Since that term has become passe, guess we’ll have to call it something else, though it’s rooted in the progressive, minimalist tradition that gave us the lies of Squarepusher, Autechre and Boards of Canada.

“The Mantle,” Malikor’s latest release, is a puzzle worth piecing together. Haunting and gorgeous, with fluttering beats, tendrils of melody and philosophical overtones all coming and going in the time it takes a synapse to fire, the album addresses themes of transcendence, which it then attempts to achieve sonically.

LEATHER LUNGS ( Ever wonder what it would sound like, the shrieking din that might be conjured, if a school bus full of second graders hopped up on Red Bull and sugar cubes was driven off a cliff and into the waiting maw of that big-ass dragon from “The Hobbit”?

Of course, we all have.

This goes double for the dudes in Leather Lungs, who’ve clearly thought of the aforementioned scenario and then, helpfully, devised a sound that would drown it out completely.

You might have caught this bunch opening for Ty Segall’s Fuzz at Beauty Bar last October, and that’s just about the perfect match for these garage rock noise fetishists. Think of early Black Lips, back when the band was at their rawest and most unrefined, then stop thinking and get out of this trio’s way.

It’s all reverb and distortion, minor surf rock touches and major hooks. Everything bleeds into everything else, and as for your ears, well, they’re just going to plain bleed, period.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.

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