"The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not on Fire"
Too Pure/Beggars Group
The title of Mclusky's new release, "The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not on Fire," is a little fussier than 2002's "Mclusky Do Dallas" -- and so is the album. As before, the Welsh trio plays a purposefully messed-up amalgam of punk, blues and glitter rock, passionate yet playful. Yet such new songs as "Without MSG I Am Nothing" and "Forget About Him I'm Mint" are flashier than their predecessors, with knottier arrangements and more theatrical vocals. Some of the change is probably attributable to the fact that the band spent more time working on this album; for all their explosiveness, these songs seem more considered.
While Mclusky is often compared to the Pixies and Pavement, such songs as "Icarus Smicarus" most recall the Three Johns, one of the many side projects of Mekons singer-guitarist Jon Langford. The Johns reimagined T. Rex's boogie as a dirtier, more anarchic proposition, with vocals that melded Howlin' Wolf and Public Image-era John Lydon -- as Mclusky's Andy Falkous often does. But when Falkous and bassist Jonathan Chapple transform such shouted non sequiturs as "rickshaw!" and "western armies!" into hooks, the trio is out there all alone, as splendidly idiosyncratic as it is swaggeringly assertive.
Yet another British post-rock group with a taste for whisper-to-a-scream dynamics, Oceansize combines wispy chamber-pop prologues, minimalist loops and drones and heavy-rock bashing. Actually, the 12 tracks on the Manchester quintet's "Effloresce" don't mix these elements as much as simply lay them end to end. "Massive Bereavement," for example, opens with hushed chiming and humming tones and ends -- 10 minutes later -- with the pile-driver-strum coda of an '80s Sonic Youth track. Such range is not a bad thing, but Oceansize's music is mostly juxtaposition and little synthesis. While some passages are subtle, the steelier sections of tracks such as "You Wish" are just standard-issue metal.
-- Mark Jenkins
Both appearing Saturday at the Black Cat with Army of Me. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Mclusky, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8124; to hear Oceansize, press 8125. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)