Blood on The Wall, Spattering Indie Rock

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Indie bands now regularly enlist up to a dozen members who strum and bash away on a variety of instruments, but Blood on the Wall embodies a slogan coined by the Minutemen years ago: "We jam econo." At DC9 on Monday night the Brooklyn trio raucously dashed through about 15 songs in half an hour, ignoring precision and grandeur in favor of the old indie rock staples -- haphazardness, distortion, screaming and sounding exactly like Sonic Youth and the Pixies.

Fifteen years ago it might have made them just another group of slackers, but today it makes them a welcome breath of fresh air. Courtney Shanks (bass) and her brother Brad (guitar) traded off lead vocal duties, with her seductive moan working slightly better than his delirious yelping. (Courtney has almost certainly left a prank message as Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon on a friend's voice mail; their voices are that similar.) Songs like "Hibernation" and "Turn Around and Shut Up" wasted little time with pleasantries, immediately blasting into overdrive, and were over almost as soon as they started, never tailing off but always crashing to an end in a glorious mess.

If you closed your eyes tight enough during "Mary Susan," you could easily picture the deranged howl and cooing harmonies coming from former Pixies Frank Black and Kim Deal instead of the Shanks siblings on stage. It wasn't quite as good as the original, but it was plenty exhilarating just the same.

-- David Malitz

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