From straight punk with no pop chaser, to blog-friendly art-rock that makes you pile on the adjectives (and references to other bands), to really bland indie-pop familiar to anyone who lived through the ’90s, Friday at CMJ truly covered all of the bases from awesome to ass.
First saw this L.A. retro-punk fivesome last year, and while they’re no more technically accomplished than they were 12 months ago, they now play with an tour-tested assurance that doesn’t compromise their offhand, giggly stage presence. I’d have to guess that not one of these ladies is over 23, and while they might be the most adorable band around at the moment, they’re also one of the fiercest. And sloppiest, but of course, like all the shambling, circa-’77 first wave punk bands (less Slits, more deadbeat L.A. skronk) they draw influence from, sloppiness is the high ideal. One singer jogs in place like an extra in Hairspray as she (literally) shouts into her phone, while the other has the slightly uptight air of a matronly secretary circa 1974 as she lurches about in her rayon blouse and skirt, one time switching to saxophone for the full Lora Logic. While I appreciate the spunk and spark, I do wish they had better/more memorable hooks–what’s always elevated one set of three-chorders above another when it’s hard to otherwise differentiate along lines of comptence or prettiness or rhythm–to go along with the pitch-perfect presentation. All-female punk bands are something that we can never have enough of, but the addition of something memorable to hum when you’re not watching them laugh and thrash on stage would definitely put them over the top.
My notes make them sound bizarre-unto-terrible: Emo(tive) rockers play extended hippie jams (a great guitarist who knows that spacey solos are best with a minimum of notes) with aquatic keyboards and up-to-date electro-beats that (musically, at least) comes off like the intersection of IDM (don’t let anyone tell you they’re aping hip-hop), the Pure Prairie League, and mid-period Talk Talk. Plus (actually capable) three part harmonies that root them directly in modern Brooklyn (the long shadow of Tunde and crew) but also dig into the kind of ’70s soft-rock that no respecting indie rocker would cop to keeping in the back of their closet a few years back. Sounds awkward and precious, right? Sure, sometimes your inner punk felt like you were watching the hipster dirtbag Yes, with the benefit of a smaller stage setup thanks to modern technology. But somtimes, as on the single “2080″ and the final song, where their occasionally too-ethereal rock finally achieved concrete heaviness, it was sublime, doing interesting things with stuff that normally has me screaming for the door–folk gentility, prog ornament, 80s art-rock, pencil moustaches.
As for the worst band of the day, well, you’ll have to wait until Monday when the special extended remix rant is set to drop.