The Armed – “Ulta Pop” LP
The Fourth album of extreme-pop-mayhem from this collective based in Detroit, Michigan. Active since 2009, but you may not have come across them before; until now I always found their releases impossible to get hold of – giving them an air of outsider mystery and obscure exoticism, further re-enforced by occassional titbits of information: their keyboard player – Clark Huge – is professional body builder; they serruptitiously sampled some obscure Frank Turner recordings (which the truculent git didn’t like!); they once claimed that Kurt Ballou of Converge was their puppet master… The latter is probably untrue… but he is their sound engineer, and blimey, what a demanding job – when you consider that at least 19 musicians contributed to the album (members of Metz, Queens Of The Stoneage, Mark Lanegan, and the aformentiond Ballou all make guest contributions). And the end result – somewhere between Andrew WK and Deafheaven (is that vague enough?!) – is as richly dense and off the wall as you would expect: multi layered pop music, influenced by EBM, hardcore (and that mathy/screamy/metalcore that was knocking around back in the naughties/Myspace years). Harsh, dischordant and thunderous. And also lots of fun.