WTF?! Wednesdays: Battles, “Atlas” from Mirrored (2007)

I used to own a few Battles EPs, but nothing could prepare me for the wonderful weirdness that emerged with this particular lineup. People have used the label “math rock” to describe this band, but I don’t know, does having a band member come from the band Don Caballero push you into that genre?

Actually, none of that really matters. You’ll hear the crazed vocals of Tyondai Braxton (Yes, the son of improvised music great Anthony Braxton) and either love this stuff or say “WTF?!!”

In my case, I said “WTF?!” and loved the music, though it was yet another case of not really understanding the attraction. The rhythms set up by the drums and bass create an almost industrial vibe, though with more than a little humor.

Braxton’s insistent and (let’s be frank here) weird vocals make you realize that this band hears no formal divide between the avant-garde and the mainstream. I wish more people felt the same way.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at