Sextional
Sextional
(Self-Released)
***

Sextional is a supergroup: We got The Haggard's low voice, Emily Kingan, whose rock drumming is only equaled by the guttural squalls that come out her mouth; Tami Hart, whose amazing, pleading voice crunches over the buzz of her bass; Rotophone's Nicki Nevlin on occasionally droney, crackly guitar. And, as their name implies, the band's theme is that mystical and sometimes elusive necessity: S-E-X. They rock the heavy melodic/tough sound, broodingly singing lines such as "Scabs on my knees/ Hands in her panties" (whoo!) with the proper amount of yearning. They even have a highly radical Sextional theme song, in which they declare, "My Party Rocks Your Body." (Double whoo!) The recording is unfortunately a little buried, but the intensity of Sextional's objective is still evident--violent, yet sweet. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


The High Violets

44 Down
(Reverb)
***

Do you remember "shoegazing"? Probably not. It's all early '90s, bands like Ride and My Bloody Valentine. Magnet just did a retrospective on it, and it's a genre Portland's High Violets know very well. In short, it usually meant two guitars working against each other--one on melody duty, the other on pure noise. Vocals were a bit cold, and the music often gave way to pure static. The buoy was always the drums. Shoegazing had some incredible drummers pounding the course. High Violets, again, are no different--a quartet of kids who have never filled a speaker with sound to the point of saying, "That's enough." Thus, despite being only seven songs, 44 down makes a massive racket; its tunes careen off in every direction, like someone bursting open a bag of angry fireflies. Just imagine how beautiful that chaos of light could be--like atoms smashing in your ears. JAMIE S. RICH



VHS or Beta

Le Funk
(ON! Records)
***

When one finds oneself puzzled, yet intrigued, by an article of clothing, one's arrogant fingers may fumble toward the brand tag that might justify its appearance. A comparable practice of the CD buyer is the record label/ "thank you" list check. VHS or BETA's obscure label, ON!Records, does little to describe what you're in for, but their thank you list brings up familiar faves like U.S. Maple and Arab On Radar. This may give someone an idea as to where a group is coming from "scene"-wise. But when listening to the first track, these clues further beg the question: WHY THE HELL AM I LISTENING TO HOUSE MUSIC? Considering the recent trend of bands like "!!!" and "Him" that have the kids DANCING to MUSIC, an album like Le Funk doesn't come as a shock. But they've gone too far. So, why three stars then, you say? Because it takes guts for indie rockers to play shit like this. JOE FAUSTIN KELLY