The Hospitals
(In the Red Records)

Remember George Orwell's 1984 and those wicked cage masks strapped to the heads of political unfortunates? A sliding gate would hold back a frantic rat starving for face snack. Imagine grabbing someone off the street today and dressing him up in a similar torture accessory. Stick the guy in a sheet-metal pen and give him an aluminum baseball bat for his trouble. Toss in five angry beehives. Release rat. For all metaphorical purposes, Slugger has just checked into the Hospitals. On the debut full-length from this Portland guitar-drum duo, one beautifully tempered moment is reserved for a cover of Suicide's "Rock 'n' Roll Is Killing My Life." The rest is like vacationing in the concentration camp Pussy Galore built. Good stuff, really--the kind of audio balm from which one may never fully recover. (Sam Dodge Soule)


"Woke up this morning, with the sun in my eyes/ Woke up this morning, wanting to get high." Who hasn't been there? And who wouldn't want to go there again? Fortunately, this hand-crafted release (each copy comes with a unique cover featuring a "candid snapshot") from Portland's own Starantula is an express train to Sweet Oblivion. Filthy Moog and spaced-out keyboard FX tangle with the kind of classic-rock-cum-metal guitar that sounds best via consciousness fried to a flaky, delicate crisp by whatever one happened to find in one's grandparents' medicine cabinet. Meanwhile, interstellar death pimp and well-known local raconteur Seantos expounds. His wisdom is reminiscent of that often discovered at 4 am on the roof of a mobile home by groups of close friends. You dig? These six tracks are a vintage piece of local sludge. (Zach Dundas)