Fresh Gasoline

As a general rule, instrumental records need to have a lot going on: Without human voices, the playing must exude emotion (a la Dirty Three), style (a la Shadowy Men On Shadowy Planet) or technique (a la any number of late-'80s guitar-wankers). But Phono-Comb, an offshoot of the aforementioned Shadowy Men, takes a different approach: Its debut full-length is full of low-key instrumentals that, despite a vague surf-rock feel, are so subdued they feel almost subconscious. And in aiming relatively low, Phono-Comb has put together a fine collection of warm, well-crafted background music. If that's not enough for you, the band was smart enough to at least give some of its instrumentals titles like "International Anthem (A Simulation of Assimilation)" and "I Dreamed I Went To Heaven In My Cross-Your-Heart Bra." If you're going to stick mostly to instrumentals, you might as well give them amusing names, right? -- Stephen Thompson