Soft Shoulder Smile Building’s Exit LP

James Fella and friends have been cranking out SOFT SHOULDER releases in the Arizona desert for close to two decades now (like, a lot of them—I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lathe operation somewhere that is single-handedly being kept in business by this crew), generally sprouting through various cracks between collapsing improv avant-punk and blown-out no wave antagonism, but the more overtly FALL-indebted turn they’ve taken over the past year or two is by far my favorite incarnation of the project. Smile Building’s Exit opener “Raw Time” is pulled along by a gouging, infinite loop bass line that’s simultaneously filthy and funky, like A FRAMES with a serious GANG OF FOUR fixation, abetted by a spring-loaded disco beat and Fella’s stream-of-Mark E. vocals that sound like they were recorded on an answering machine circa 1987, and “Narrow Yellow Slip” follows a similarly wavering line, with deadpan-shouty lyrical ruminations about PO boxes punctuated by stabbing synth squeals, while “Dual Deck’s Decay” adds some skronking sax and extra-trebly guitar clang to its droning Messthetics-gone-Krautrock outro. Total prole art threat damage.