Blood on the Wall


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Gratefully, musical sophistication is something that doesn't much appeal to Blood on the Wall. Instead of being more carefully produced or less manic or just plain better, the trio's third disc is, as they christened it, simply Awesomer. Ben Shanks shrieks with the same lit-up, near-lunatic force he brought to the band's self-titled debut, and his sister Courtney Shanks continues to sound as though she wished she were playing with Yo La Tengo or Cowboy Junkies; all the racket just makes her want to retreat into some lo-fi hollow. Still, Blood on the Wall -- which is way unfortunately named, calling to mind as it does a screamo or metal outfit -- is a band that manages to pull its disparate energies together, and that's what makes its music so likable and so genuinely fresh. Between "You Are a Mess" and "Mary Susan," Ben manages to recall both the Violent Femmes and the Beastie Boys. Opener "Stoner Jam," meanwhile, seems in service to Courtney's ultra-coolness. Combined, all of Awesomer's songs stimulate a need to follow the band for its next few outings. Schizophrenia -- not to mention the vast bulk of safe-playing indie rock acts -- never sounded this good.

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