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Not a live album, Tsunami’s World Tour and Other Destinations confirms what most observers have already noticed: These kids have been busy. Collecting the tracks the quartet has released on singles, EPs, and compilation and tribute discs yields 22 songs recorded in the last four years. The compendium is remarkably cohesive, and arguably more satisfying than the band’s proper albums. Tsunami hasn’t mastered the knockout melody or chorus, but singers/guitarists Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson put riffs and harmonies together in a way that can be memorable. Among the more insinuating examples of this interweaving are “Answerman,” “Sometimes a Notion,” and “Crackers.” The band even animates the cocktail-lounge fad with “Bossa Nova,” a song that doesn’t surrender to the languid rhythm. Throw in a Minutemen cover (“Courage”) and the result is an album altogether too bristling to support the message of one song title, “Punk Means Cuddle.” (Simple Machines, P.O. Box 10290, Arlington, VA 22210-1290.)
Working on Next Year’s Model Now signed to Relativity after two discs for Grass, Edsel will soon be winging to Liverpool to record its new album. The local quartet leaves behind a new single: “No. 5 Recitative” and “Laugh Him to Scorn,” two slow-burners in a nifty demonic package by guitarist/designer Steve Raskin. The former features forceful guitar patterns cooled out by Sohrab Habibion’s mostly spoken vocals; the latter is all edgy chill. (Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810.)
Heart Is in the Groove Melody takes precedence over beats on the lead track from the second single from DarkAngeles (aka Arlin Goodwin). “The Secret Is Out” (“that I love you,” of course) is a brisk, bouncy pop-disco number that could almost pass for a vintage Human League B-side. Harder and more contemporary is the flip, “Play With Me,” which suggests Prince’s influence almost as strongly as did “StereoPornoGroove,” its predecessor. (Ultra Schang, 714 6th St. NE, Washington, DC 20002.)
Electric Fern-iture In an era of one- dimensional ambience, credit Triptic of a Pastel Fern (or is the title Louder Than an Exploding Star?) for diversity. This 16-part soundscape, created by Clermont Grava, Dida Nenny, and Pitchblende’s Treiops Treyfid, bleats and blares as it mixes found sound with oblique instrumental passages. Seemingly an outgrowth of the sonic experimentation of the between-song tracks on Pitchblende albums, the project is aggressively fragmentary: Few prolonged grooves or sustained melodies connect the dots. There’s a fair amount of Orientalism, from what sounds like snippets of Japanese-cartoon audiotracks to koto-ish tones, but also the vaguely Test Dept.-like clanging and chanting of “Proud Willow Myth” and the almost-rock guitar gallop of “Installment.” This is not louder than an exploding star, but it is more outgoing than a lot of contemporary burble. (Poison Plant Music, 825 Gist Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910.)