40 Best St. Louis Releases of 2011: Part Six

Part One: The Union Electric, Sweet Tooth, King Kong Magnetics, Warm Jets USA Part Two: Glass Teeth, Ryan Spearman, the Breaks and Adult Fur Part Three: Rum Drum Ramblers, Humanoids, Old Lights and Volcanoes Part Four: Bo & the Locomotive, Rockwell Knuckles, Dubb Nubb and Palace Part Five: Sleepy Kitty, Magic City, Nee

Sine Nomine | Super Molecular Dust Separator

Our city has long been a fortunate, if off-radar source of forward thinking, heavy rock music. Sine Nomine is not the sole living torchbearer, but the group most accurately encapsulates this dark spirit of St. Louis. On the band's unbelievable Super Molecular Dust Separator, we see ghosts of local legends past - Dazzling Killmen's uneasy repetition of dizzy riffs, Lye By Mistake's stunning technicality, and the apocalyptic "somebody is going to die" feeling of Love Lost But Not Forgotten's best work. It goes without saying that these attributes are individualized through Sine Nomine's filter; the band has always been difficult to pin down, which is both its selling point and its crux. Bands this singular are difficult to market. Writing about Sine Nomine is like finding the perfect font for a question mark. If your interests include any or all of the following - metal, art, politics, hardcore, the collective works of Shellac, mathematics, Oceanic by Isis, instrumental proficiency, Dexter - you might be tickled to know that Sine Nomine's Super Molecular Dust Separator is available for free download on its Bandcamp page.

Key track: "Filled"

Place You're Most Likely To Hear The Artist: Playing in the car stereo of a member of 2015's most innovative local metal band in order to get pumped up for practice.

--Ryan Wasoba

Prairie Rehab | Phiology

When singer and guitarist Kevin Butterfield left St. Louis, he took with him a golden voice and a starring role in the Linemen, one of this town's best Americana outfits. Fortunately, Butterfield's band mates -- Scott Swartz (guitars and pedal steel), Greg Lamb (bass and vocals) and John Baldus (drums) -- weren't restless for too long. The trio has teamed with singer-songwriter Lacie Mangels, who immediately makes her own mark with the help of these seasoned musicians.

Where the Linemen relished the restraints of classic, heartfelt country, Prairie Rehab uses melodic, twang-burnished folk as a springboard for several strands of genteel pop music. Mangels' lilting warble is a bit reminiscent of both Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris in places, but there's an unassuming, affectless tone to her delivery that sidesteps artifice in favor of straight-ahead harmonic accuracy. As befits the principal lyricist of an album named Philology, Mangels has the vocabulary of an ACT overachiever, and she's not afraid to drop 50-cent words such as "taciturn" and "saboteurs" throughout the disc. But she knows how to mix the sound and the sense of her phrases, and it's nice to hear a songwriter with lyrics that are so, well, lyrical. The gorgeous "Up and Away (Strawberry Roan)" is ostensibly a song about a horse, but Mangels turns it into a meditation on growth, love and loss in a few brief but loaded verses. You may have to pull the lyrics sheet out to figure out how she made you tear up in such a short space -- and then you may have to listen to it five times in a row.

--Christian Schaeffer Homespun: February 24

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