Punk, synth, pop top roundup of local releases

Ominous soundscapes and nose-flattening punk top this month’s roundup of Vegas releases:

THE VERMIN, “Joe’s Shanghai” (Wood Shampoo): By now, you should know the drill when it comes to this bunch: They sweat out butt ugly, Frankenstein-faced punk rock ‘n’ roll with more hooks than an abattoir and just as much bloodshed. They’re trash culture fetishists, with singer/guitarist Dirk Vermin spinning tales of junkies and joy rides, bad days and worse women through a whiskey garglin’ sneer.

There are some twists here: “That Haunted Train” is a near-rockabilly ripper, “Oh Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble” opens with a drunken honky-tonk preamble and “Where’s Nikki” is a gritty shard of nasty beat(down) poetry.

Here’s the soundtrack to the next dozen or so fistfights at the Double Down.

MAYA GHOST, “Yeti” ( Mapping the expansive terrain between Pink Floyd and Frederic Chopin, keyboardist/gearhead Maya Ghost delivers an album as haunting as her surname. Her playing is akin to the goo in a lava lamp, always taking on new shapes from one minute to the next.

A free-range pastiche of spectral synth, touches of Far Eastern strings and flutes, dissonant jags of guitar and throbbing percussion, “Yeti” is equally meditative and jarring, the kind of head trip that requires a fastened seat belt.

FOLSOM, “Neon Light Nights” (Filled With Hate Records): Though their vein-throbbing hard-core sounds like the kind of stuff that inmates crank while pumping iron in the prison yard, these dudes’ hearts are just as heavy as their tunes.

“I’d be lyin’ if I said I wasn’t still sweet on you,” frontman Stu Folsom barks at one point, his emotions as raw as his knuckles on a disc that’s by turns lovelorn, searching and disconsolate. The sonics exude all the tough guy trademarks in the form of gang vocal choruses and iron-cast mosh riffing meant to turn the pit into an emergency ward.

But there’s also a desperation here, and plenty of remorse, too, not the stuff of macho muscle flexing.

“We’re going straight to hell,” Folsom bellows on “Wicked Ways,” and for this bunch, it sounds like it’s going to be a short trip.

LYRIC ROAD, “Call It Blue” ( This disc is all about chasing away its titular color. “All I know is that we gotta dance,” frontman Dave Matelske Jr. sings on an album of wistful pop rock all about that girl who got away, those glory days gone by and not letting life grind you down too much.

With heart-in-the-throat lyrics, creamy, layered harmonies, high stepping keys and touches of acoustic guitar, this certainly isn’t the Road less traveled, but it’s a pretty smooth byway nonetheless.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ or 702-383-0476.


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