VARIOUS ARTISTS
20 Years of Dischord
(Dischord)
First: the unreleased Shudder to Think track is worth the $25. Second: I enjoy nearly every song on this three-CD box set (two CDs spanning the history of Dischord, a third of rare and unreleased material, plus a beautiful full-color booklet). While songs by Youth Brigade, Iron Cross, Dag Nasty, and Teen Idles sound old now (though they set the standard for styles still employed today), you can hear the excitement and vitality in the recordings, captured as it was happening. Pleasingly, certain older bands stand the test of time: Minor Threat is always fucking great, but the bands influenced by DC go-go (Dead C, The Snakes), Government Issue, Fire Party, Happy Go Licky, and every band Ian MacKaye ever played in, are utterly essential. Dischord birthed harDCore; spawned the world's first "emocore" band (Rites of Spring); bred a new punk ideal of political activism, straightedge and veganism; released lady punk bands when hardly anyone was listening; gave us five or six of the best bands of the '90s; and they still only charge $8 per LP. I love them so much, I want to cry with joy. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

[THE USER]
symphony #2 for dot matrix printers
(Asphodel)
I waver between adoring and wanting to puke on "sound artists" and modern classical composers. I know that in a post-Cage world, playing one consecutive note for 79 hours is considered really progressive because of the oscillation in tone in relation to subtle shifts in the air, etc. But I also believe that if it's released for consumption, music has an obligation to the society in which it's created, and that obligation is not even to please--it's just an obligation to keep us awake. This is where [The User], a Canadian sound-artist duo, comes in, with Symphony #2. As the title says, this is a piece written for 14 dot matrix printers controlled by old computers from the '90s, and it is AWESOME. Not only are the whimsical, beat-like smashes and groans of over-amplified printers rhythmic, futuristic, and ravenous-sounding, but Symphony is a fully conceived idea that does not require the listener to have completed seven years at an experimental liberal arts college to "get" it. If you remember fondly what the Okidata sounded like, you'll dig this clicky, booming record. FYI deejays: you might want to mix it. JS

ORTHRELM
Norildivoth Crallos-Lomrixth Urthiln
(Three.One.G
Sometimes you want to be seduced, and other times you just want to screw. Orthrelm is for hate-fucking. Their psychotic guitar screeches and fervent drums are played with such a rapid intensity that it's like the musical outpouring of the id. They rarely hold a note longer than .0125 seconds, and the songs are completely absent of courting. They start with guitar drum bursts so quick and jagged and maniacal, that after five songs you'll question your sanity--or at least reach for the Excedrin. KATIE SHIMER