The surreal sounds of Damaged Bug

Randall Roberts
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
'Cold Hot Plumbs' is a mess of tripped-out confusion

Damaged Bug, "Cold Hot Plumbs" (Castleface). Had the late Pink Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett lost his mind in the data age instead of the psychedelic '60s, he might have made a record as curiously surreal as "Cold Hot Plumbs," the second album from Los Angeles-based artist Damaged Bug.

The solo moniker of singer, guitarist and visual artist John Dwyer, best known for being the frantic singer-guitarist for Thee Oh Sees, Damaged Bug's aptly titled "Cold Hot Plumbs" is a mess of tripped-out confusion. It's bedroom psychedelia of the highest order, featuring insistent beats, strange synth squiggles and Dwyers sweet but strange voice.

Dawn, "Running from Sane" (Adult Swim). Dawn Richard is still best known for her work as a former member of the MTV-famous quintet Danity Kane, but over the past few years the singer has released a series of spellbinding tracks. Using pitch-bending technology that allows her to stretch her voice down to a male tenor or up to her natural female soprano, Dawn on "Running from Sane" seems to transcend gender while riding a buoyant rhythm.

The track is a free download courtesy of Adult Swim and the first of a series of 19 tracks by 19 musical innovators. New music will arrive weekly through October from arists including Cherry Glazerr, Yung Lean, the Chromatics, Slayer and Run the Jewels.

Saul Williams, "Burundi (feat. Emily Kokol)" (Fader). Call it what you want: an incitement, a missive, a tirade, a lyrical op-ed. The poet and rapper Saul Williams likely doesn't care; he's been busy working. The result is his fifth album, "Martyr Loser King," the first track of which is a sonic explosion. With a stated goal to "skim global issues, throw them into my drum machine and see what polyrhythms formed," Williams on "Burundi wrestles with recent global unrest while relentless polyrhythms surround him. The track features the mesmerizing voice of Warpaint's Emily Kokal, who harmonizes in the background while Williams loops on the phrase "I'm a candle!" It bodes well for "Martyr Loser King," due to arrive in September.

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