This Rohnert Park, California band's take on what Wikipedia describes as "unmanageable emotional excess" evokes the iconic introduction to Black Sabbath's mighty "Iron Man" -- until it assumes the characteristics of staid, paint-by-numbers stadium punk. "Hysteria" is hysterical in the same sense that euthanized, entombed kittens present a danger to Doberman pincers.
4. Scars on 45, "Breakdown"
Is the world in desperate need of more closing-time soft rock: you know, plangent pianos, acoustic guitars, pedal steel, serious Fray/Mumford & Sons damage? This English quintet and their stateside enablers sure believe it is. Coming soon to a teen movie scene involving a freak thunderstorm and a climactic argument.
"Breakdown" doesn't sound like somebody having a breakdown; it sounds like somebody disinterestedly passing along a worn-out rumor about a friend of a friend who maybe had a breakdown once over lattes at a coffeehouse-cum-speakeasy while a Kris Allen weeper wafts from the PA system overhead.
3. Ed Schrader's Music Beat, "My Mind Is Broken"
Musically speaking, "My Mind Is Broken" is tight as a drum and fit as a fiddle, trundling and tripping and trotting along without worry, without missing a step. (Baltimore: once a thriving indie mecca, always a thriving indie mecca.) Schrader's reservoir-deep monotone is equally steady -- like listening to Calvin Johnson fronting C.O.C.O. at its sharpest -- and the song is about, I think, how the long reach of music eclipses the sheer insanity of musicianship itself. Also, Schrader sounds like a lobotomy patient, which is awesome.
2. New Build, "Schism of the Mind"
"Schism" entices and alienates simultaneously, a not-quite-glacial flotilla of cowbells, effects, fake horns, synth farts, keyboard shimmer, and droll Bernard Sumner affectations. (They're English, so let's give 'em a pass on that last one.) Now, I won't swear that no one else has ever made madness feel quite this funky -- "mid-tempo" oversells the pace of this song -- but I promise you'll be bobbing your head to this all the way to the sanitarium.
1. Fawn, "Suicide"
The only lyric in "Suicide" is "it was suicide waiting for you to arrive," and I kind of like that, because the opposite of that statement would be something like "it was murder waiting for you to arrive." So if "murder" would be representative of the usual impatience associated with that sort of situation, maybe "suicide" would be a more active species of disquiet -- concern that the other had been injured, fear that you'd done something to cause that person to stay clear, the sort of self-castigation where ancient unrelated screw-ups somehow seem related, and so on.