Rocking out to Jamiroquai
Photo: Alexis Scherl / flybutterphoto.com
Riff Raff “Totally Loving These Guys” Series
Not the most popular opinion, but I loved that second Liars album, front-to-back, all the parts people said were unlistenable and all the others people said weren’t unlistenable enough. Much was made of the band’s lineup change before Drowned dropped–they lost bassist Pat “Nature” Noecker and drummer Ron Albertson, two Nebraskans who had responded to a Liars bassist/drummer want-ad around Brooklyn–and that shuffle crux’d too many reviews, that Nature and Albertson were the band’s straight lacers, technically talented but meat-and-potatoes, while Liars’ Angus Andrews and Aaron Hemphill were the artistes, brains of the Liars project, etc. Their relationship was symbiotic, the line went, and when the band split Hemphill and Andrews frumped about while the other two just disappeared.
All around, sorta not true. Come 2004, Noecker and Albertson along with voxist/guitarist Christian Dautresme started playing around as No Things (or n0 things). Given the split you’d think the band would go for some sound that’s wildly different from their Liars work, but weirdly the tracks I’ve heard are uncannily like what Liars themselves have been recording without them–a move away from smart-alecky disco-punk and DANCING towards heavier “tribal music” and more tom-toms, yelps, interest in ambience, and so on. Curious is all, and shit, when Dautresme gets into falsetto for “Nina Pinta Maria” (linked above), he’s dead-ringing for Andrews on the upcoming Drum’s Not Dead, maybe even a little more convincing theatrically. No slight, Andrews’s appeal is his amateurism, the discomfort he seems to give off in that range.
The other two songs No Things have up for download fall in that glorious region between Liars’ first LP and the Fins to Make Us More Fish-Like EP, the last songs Noecker and Robertson cut with them. Which is to say, they’re somewhere in neighborhood of dance-skronk or disco-noise, lyrics strung out an inch too far, so they start sounding deep or just crazy depending on how you handle incomprehensibility. It’s not roundabout pop, but it is some sort of roundabout or freakish approximation of it; haven’t ever heard a simple line like “I need your love” come off so goddamn creepy and desperate, the emphasis not on the “your” or “love” but on the “I” and “need” especially, bottles breaking in the song’s background, cowbells a given.