What We’re Into: musical oddities

Some bands just don’t fit into any established genre. Following are a few such acts that are personal favorites and well worth checking out.
The Evens: Washington, D.C. based duo The Evens are the best at what they do—and fittingly so, since they’re the only band doing it. The group, composed of husband and wife Ian MacKaye (that’s right, formerly of Minor Threat and Fugazi) and Amy Farina, plays raw, yet oddly serene rock with political undertones. Both man and wife share vocal duties, while MacKaye provides a base for Farina’s drumming with baritone guitar licks. They’ve been popularly labeled “post-punk.” If so, then they are about as “post” as it gets, if their gigs at D.C. area libraries and museums are any indication. Regardless, the simple arrangement is surprisingly pleasant, and Farina is the best female drummer I’ve ever heard. Standout tracks include, “Shelter Two,” “Crude Bomb,” and “Cut from the Cloth.” You can check out the act at myspace.com/evensthe
Kiss Kiss: Kiss Kiss is an excellent five-piece from New York, whose sound is tricky to describe…but gypsy influenced prog-indie comes to mind. It’s like Beirut, but better. Their songs explode along the tenuous lines constructed by violinist Rebecca Schlappich, and the bombast of lead vocalist Josh Benash provides the super glue to ensure the tracks get stuck in your head. Conservatively speaking, the band is eclectic, as mathy, technical tricks abound along with ragged breakdowns and polka upbeats. If you look into one band on this list, make it this one. Good introduction tracks are “Machines,” “Satellite,” and “Vagabond.” Check out Kiss Kiss at myspace.com/kisskiss
The Number 12 Looks Like You: If there was a contest for abrasive music, the #12 would win. This is the music The Blood Brothers would’ve made if they were math obsessed jazz majors tutored by Rush. The New Jersey quartet’s music is dense, technical and, at first, very difficult to listen to. The work pays off however, as the #12 are one of the few innovators left in heavy music. Math rock does not come close to capturing the absurdly technical construction of their songs. The staccato guitar strums, incredible snare work and mid-song rumba breakdown of “The Garden’s All Nighters” is one example of the musical insanity the #12 creates. Jazzy improv, impossibly precise drums and guitar, growls, frequent time changes—it’s all here. The #12, unlike so many others, still makes music without compromise. Good first tracks are “Like a Cat,” “Texas Dolly,” and “Jay Walking Backwards.” The #12 can be found at myspace.com/tntllu

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