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!!!As pioneers of the dance-punk symbiosis first endeavored during the mid-‘90s, hopelessly unpronounceable conglomerate !!! (which can be pronounced by stringing together any thrice repeated bit of language—Chk Chk Chk being the most common, not to be outdone by Bam Bam Bam or Yeow Yeow Yeow) have labored their fair share of evolutions. When the band formed in Sacramento, California in 1996, the west coast underground was still mired in the maelstrom of skate-punk, and the last vestiges of something called “grunge.”
It shouldn’t have been a surprise, then, that by the time !!! came around, their unique hybrid of blitzkrieg rhythms and punk rock pissiness hypnotized a delegation of punks who were sick of pretending they didn’t want to dance. With the release of their now-classic self-titled debut in 2001, !!! aligned itself with a new movement of electronic-based new wave hysteria, galvanizing a new trend, and sprouting countless artistic admirers, including groups like Heloise and the Savoir Faire, Chromeo and The Faint.
The band’s sophomore album, “Louden Up Now,” was released by Touch and Go in 2004, where it peaked at #4 on the US Electronic charts. “Myth Takes,” the band’s 2007 offering, melded the more sultry facets of vocalist Nic Offer’s arsenal, openly embracing less-than subtle empathy for sex-disco bangers and quasi-hip-hop cuts. Tunes like “Heart of Hearts” traversed the most primal corners of the band’s quiver of goodies, taking up sonic territory and groove-spaces previously relegated to yesteryear practitioners like Morris Day and the Time.
Sporadic studio time has yielded only four full-lengths during the band’s tenure; their latest album, “Strange Weather, Isn’t It?,” found !!! filing ever-closer toward a paradise of their own making; one where the beats don’t even consider stopping, the bassline’s funkier than a soiled sock, and the party never, ever ends. RYAN J. PRADO
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What began as the one-woman project of Greer McGettrick in 2009 soon evolved into a more fully realized band after her self-recorded cassette tape found its way into the hands of Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer. Now a quartet, the Mallard’s debut LP, “Yes On Blood,” is pure junky surf-pop and punky garage jams that toe the lo-fi line while remaining ambitious enough to hold your ear. Utilizing a 16-track reel-to-reel to record their bizarre runs of psychedelic mischief, and writing songs as quickly as they pop into their heads, don’t be shocked to see lots on the horizon for the Mallard in 2013. RYAN J. PRADO
THE YELLOW DOGSThe story of The Yellow Dogs is not a very familiar one to western musicians. Hailing from Tehran, Iran, the trio was not even allowed to perform legally until January 2010, when they played in Istanbul, Turkey. Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance did not approve the band, and therefore illegalized their music. Their loss is our gain, fortunately. The group’s debut EP, “Upper Class Complexity,” sizzles with synth-heavy vignettes of upbeat, English-sung pop with attitude. RYAN J. PRADO