This Nov. 17, the 10-year anniversary of the student protest in Prague that started the Velvet Revolution, Czech avant-rockers Uz Jsme Doma might be especially amused to be playing in the capital of the free world.
After surviving years in the Czech underground as an illegal group, the band emerged as rock stars in their native country--and songwriter Mirek Wanek even served as leader of an interim local government. The band's concerns have mostly been about the hidden workings of humanity rather than politics, however.
Their fifth album, "The Ears," features oblique parables sung in Czech--filled with the pointed surrealistic imagery of Polish filmmaker Wojciech Has or Kafka's writings.
It's tempting to read "Cowboy Song" as a criticism of American materialism couched in a Pogues-ish bounce--but the lyrics are too slippery to pin a polemic on them.
The kitchen-sink music is just as playfully complex--combining Camper van Beethoven and a Knitting Factory jazz-rock band.
"Thin Ice" and "River" kick-start with powerful, coiled guitar licks that wouldn't shame the Pixies before darting into Slavic folk, woodwind-based chamber music, or avant-garde jazz, and closing on triumphant passages that blend all elements while warning that the rational mind has pitfalls that universally affect all societies. But no matter how many ingredients they bring to their music, Uz Jsme Doma effortlessly blends an exhilarating treat for the ears.
Appearing Wednesday at the Black Cat with Drums & Tuba, and Comedians.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Uz Jsme Doma, call 202/334-9000 and press 8110. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110).