What makes Useless Eaters' dangerously hip pastiche of post-punk jitters and nuclear-winterized angst sound fresh? The lingering undertones of voracious Memphis garage-rock primitivism. Lead Eater Seth Sutton accompanied the late Jay Reatard on his final tour, and the sneering, tossed-off ambience of Hypertension bears unmistakable evidence of that association. The album's grittiest moments sound like unearthed cassette dispatches from mid-Eighties suburban dystopia. Sutton's droll, factory-loudspeaker vox commingle at meat-locker temperatures with scrap-metal guitar jags and slightly off-kilter rhythms. If riffs could maim, the torqued-up roundhouse Sutton unleashes on "Death Gripped" would smart for weeks. Likewise, "Life on a Grid" powers up a steady motor-beat broadside against fluorescent-lit complacency. Even when Sutton cops a come-hither on "Black Night Ultraviolet," the overall mood stays mechanical and detached. Even if you're too old to not care anymore, it's nice to hear post-adolescent aloofness alive and simmering. (11:10pm, Metal & Lace Lounge)
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