Vegas acts a mixed bag of sounds

Death and popsicles. Both are served cold in this month’s roundup of local discs:

Dirty Earthlings, “Dramatic Turn of Events” ( These three MCs collect bad karma like it could be bottled and redeemed for free beer: Debauched and unrepentant, the Dirty Earthlings view their surroundings as one big carnal Xanadu for them to pillage like oversexed Norsemen.

As such, they’re a true distillation of Sin City: They rap about coke deals on Pecos Avenue, back street brothels downtown and the seedy side of the Strip.

Over a spare, barely there production with the murkiest of beats, rappers Text 1, Snuph B and Jonny O trade cocksure, pointed rhymes that celebrate — and eviscerate — the city they call home.

Dr. Popsicle and the Hair-Painted Opera House, “The Rubber Tree” ( The punchy Popsicle doesn’t sing his songs so much as whisper them in your ear, his voice still as a crypt — and just as chilling, at times.

Accompanied by his acoustic guitar and shifting, intermittent pockets of sound, Popsicle’s voice crackles, trembles and roars through slow-simmering elegies full of haunting imagery involving drowning eyes and twisted bodies.

“I want to see this all work out,” he sings balefully on “The Fall Chandelier,” a sentiment that’s hard not to share.

Spun In Darkness, “Birthright” ( Moms won’t like it, but chiropractors will: The latest from this underrated Vegas wrecking ball is the sound of sprained necks and dislodged vertebrae.

Too many modern death metal troupes have become obsessed with a suffocating, self-indulgent technicality, but not this bunch: They churn out groove-heavy, old school death that alternates between anvil-heavy, midpaced thrash (“Nocturnal”) and needle-in-the-red rippers (“All Must Die”).

Their singer bellows forth in a gruff bark that sounds as if his larynx has been worked over by a power sander, but he’s still decipherable, sermonizing about the end of days on a disc that could serve as humanity’s toe tag.

Michael Grimm, “Live” ( “I wish I could turn back the clock to a time when was music was simple, soulful and believable,” Grimm writes in this disc’s liner notes, and true to form, he is something of an anachronism: a white boy soul singer with the gutbucket howl of a Dixie Joe Cocker.

Born in Mississippi, the Vegas transplant favors fleet, playfully arranged funk with light feet and the occasional heavy heart.

Here, he mostly tackles the standards, from Cajun classics (The Neville Brothers’ “Shake Your Tambourine”) to rock staples (Creedence’s version of “Proud Mary”).

Buttressed by roiling organ and a stout rhythm section, Grimm even does well by Otis Redding. Here’s reason No. 3,432 to burn your Michael McDonald CDs.

Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@

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