Tripper (Sargent House)
Call it migraine magic—California noise-rock duo Hella specializes in the sort of pulverizing sounds that will either, like, totally blow you away, man, or like, totally make you hit eject within the first 30 seconds.
It's been a hella weird journey for these far-out bros (guitarist Spencer Seim and galactic-punk kit mutilator Zach Hill), who released three schizoid albums as a duo in the early 2000s before expanding to a more traditional five-man lineup for the slightly linear prog of 2007's There's No 666 in Outer Space. Now they're back to the two-man game on Tripper, tag-teaming these nine sweaty, turbulent tracks with the giddy glee of hormonal high-school punks with dominion over the folks' garage. Tripper, like much of the band's output, has absolutely legitimate flashes of brilliance: "Yubacore" swings violently between Mars Volta-esque psychedelia and punk ferocity; "Netgear," in particular, is a wicked showcase for Hill's impeccable time-keeping, with Seim answering back with cascades of wild melody. But sometimes noise is noise is noise, a sentiment ably showcased by the tiring pyrotechnics of "Kid Life Crisis." (Nice title, though.) You know what the old-timers say about garage bands—sometimes they oughtta stay put. Too often on Tripper, I couldn't agree more.