Lars Gotrich

So is a gnarwhal a whale that shreds the gnar? And what does the whale shred? Does the whale shred with its tusk? These are hard-hitting questions for Gnarwhal, but the Nashville guitar-and-drums duo only responds with wild yelps, frantic guitar work and crashing drums.

"Light-Up City" comes from the band's third album, Crucial, and it's a raw and switchback-crazy seven minutes of chaotic math-rock. Drive Like Jehu's most emotionally wrought moments come to mind, but stripped down to the bare essentials.

Sevdaliza's debut album feels like a lifetime examined — and past lives exhumed.

Bill MacKay's become a stealth fixture on the Chicago music scene over the last decade and change. The guitarist deftly glides through folk, experimental rock and jazz in his band Darts & Arrows and has worked with everyone from Fred Lonberg-Holm and members of Bitchin' Bajas to a blossoming creative partnership with with Ryley Walker — they released an album of guitar duets in 2015.

GAS isn't really meant for the club, but that's where I first heard it — a cavernous basement was hosting a night of experimental music, the definition of which was determined by the DJ. It sounded and felt like a symphony buried underground, beats programmed from a different galaxy. Pop didn't change the landscape of ambient music — it evolved its purpose, its tone, its movement.

Call it math-pop, technical sugar-pop, J-punk, jazzy post-rock — whatever it is, the Kyoto-based Tricot makes sophisticated music that's as sweet and bubbly as soda. The band has self-released two albums in Japan, but is now getting some stateside shine from Topshelf with the simply titled 3. Here's the closing track "Melon Soda" — it's a compact piece of pop wizardry that finds hooks in weird corners, and someone should sync it up to the fizzy lifting drink scene from Willy Wonka already.

Buildings' noise-rock is like a burrito supreme sprayed across the windshield: gross, hilarious, awesome. On its third album, You Are Not One Of Us, the Minneapolis trio has become far more adept at wrapping its angular riffs around punk, noise-rock and post-hardcore with a certain amount of dexterity. Buildings' have a bit of that Jesus Lizard nastiness, but with the determined backbone and heady chops of Dazzling Killmen.

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