Vex Your Mind with Vex Ruffin's Crash Course EP

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Listen to this while high: Vex Ruffin's Crash Course EP


Behind the buzz: Vex Ruffin is the next whiz kid out of L.A.'s celebrated Stones Throw Records, signed after an unsolicited demo and now being touted as a split of the considerable difference between Ruff Ryders and The Cure. Such flackery, along with Stones Throw's uranium-weight rep, indicates a THC test in order for these seven tracks of presumptive wack.

Today's weed: Louis VIII, monarch of the indica side of the dispensary list.

Twenty minute horror movie: "Sacrifice" is commendably creepy and atmospheric, with a chugging beat and Ruffin's dead-affect voice creating a nice tension that it resolves merely by shutting down and ringing on the next track, the boastful, paranoid "Man with a Plan." Another exercise in doomy avant-weird, this track abruptly jump-cuts into the title track, which recapitulates the established mood in a manner that's half J.G. Ballard and 50 percent The Normal. "Shield for You" is what passes in this tonal universe for a love song, with weary boneyard lyrics that sound like sentiments zombies are wont to exchange on Valentine's Day. "I'm Creative" is jagged hymn to violence best taken as brute satire, and "My Mind" is self-loathing worthy of "T.V. Party" era Black Flag. At 3:31, the album closer "Hey Gerald" is the "Hey Jude" of this set and a very concentrated and droning piece of resentment is too. Vex's vocals here scale to a relative height of emotion -- sounding, well, vexed.

The part where you know you're high: If you time your first hit just as you press play, something fairly awesome will happen to your head. I promise.

The part you wish you weren't: About a minute into the last track, when an effect is reached like that of simultaneously hammering nails into green lumber and pulling them out. What Laurie Anderson called "difficult music."

Psychotropic verdict: Ruffin has undeniable talent and one awaits its development with interest.

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