Die Monitr Batss Girls of War
(Troubleman Unlimited)

Consumed by a sleeve-bearing, card-carrying appreciation of NYC punk's near-ancient histories, Nathan Howdeshell's unapologetic fandom is the sort that could understandably (and quite probably) turn off many an oversaturated listener. Whether he's lovingly mainlining Ron Asheton, Pat Place, or Thurston Moore, Gossip guitarist/Die Monitr Batss front man Howdeshell parades his influences with unabashed glee--yet no matter where he dips his toes, you can't help but be somehow riveted.

In Girls of War, the second longish installment of the Monitr Batss' discography (a list that includes a handful of split releases with the likes of Sissy Spacek, A.S.T., and Matmos), Howdeshell and co. lean less on no wave's aching shoulder and more on the thoughtful, earlier efforts of Sonic Youth--and to great effect. More structured, focused, and aggressively artful than Youth Controllers, Girls of War finds Die Monitr Batss--now a multigendered four-piece including members of Portland's Sleetmute Nightmute supplanting their junkstore-Jesus and the Jerks debut with a more intentionally crafted proper album that mines Sister as much as it does No New York. Not exactly "maturation" in the traditional sense--until you consider the adolescent (and brilliant) id of their schizophrenic first record.

Balancing the all-treble shrill of their previous output, Girls is married with a low-end that alternates between dexterous hyperdisco and Kim Gordon grind. Combine this with Nate Preston's tactful sax reserve, and Girls of War ups the ante exponentially--calming the loins of the beast just a bit while still maintaining the blistering exhilaration of their debut.