Maher Shalal Hash Baz
When Tori Kudo wonders Who will rescue me from this body? on “Miserable Man,” the tone-deaf Maher Shalal Hash Baz frontman could be speaking for any of us rooting through L’Autre Cap to locate acorns hidden among the rotting leaves. Here, this Japanese group — aided by assorted Olympia, Washington, scenesters, including Calvin Johnson and Melanie Valera — mucks through 27 tracks of inconsistent quality using instrumentation conventional, orchestral and decidedly not available at a Guitar World near you. At its best, Maher Shalal Hash Baz staggers and sloshes like a renegade New Orleans marching band improvising after a few too many cases of Guinness (see: “Dove,” “One That Is Missing Here”). At its worst — the teeth-grinding cover of Derroll Adams’ “Portland Town,” the insipid “First Love” and many others — Maher Shalal Hash Baz proves conclusively that the twee aesthetic that its label champions isn’t universally inclusive.