Unknown Relatives - Lagniappe Per Capita
Like a lot of bands in recent years, Unknown Relatives was making music infused with that fuzzed-out surf rock sound — clean guitars, breezy melodies, pop drums, and a hazy layer of reverb coating it all. Well, the sonic beach party’s over. These guys have packed up and headed off, some place they make something more their own. On Lagniappe Per Capita, you can still hear that same happy-go-lucky band in there somewhere, but now they’re taking those guitars and drums and using them for something completely different on this noisy post-punk album. It’s a step in the same direction they started on in last year’s Clueless. But for all the growth and musical range Clueless showed, it also had a sort of identity crisis; the songs would veer suddenly from alternative to surf to hardcore. Lagniappe Per Capita is hyperfocused, and it pays off. The album stays firmly in the realm of post-punk, but that doesn’t mean Unknown Relatives isn’t experimenting and taking chances. On “Medium,” the album opens with a few seconds of distorted guitars bubbling up to the surface. From nowhere the motorik drumbeat and bass drop in, driving an aggressive guitar solo that doesn’t let up for two minutes until the first verse finally kicks in. I honestly have no goddamn clue what Kyle Carpenter is singing about, but his voice makes it sound anxiety-inducing, and his punctuated screams just keep the panic going.