Imperial Teen

Live at Maxwell's

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In the liner notes to Live at Maxwell's, Imperial Teen's first live album, there's a mention of frontman Will Schwartz singing Blondie's "Union City Blue" in the tour van. That reference couldn't be more appropriate because three albums in, Imperial Teen haven't settled so much as they've found their groove, and it's in a highly inventive, melodic, and original blend of the same type of sassy new wave that Blondie perfected more than 20 years prior. But while the band sound great on record, they're a fairly captivating live presence -- partially because the four jockey around on instruments, and partly because Schwartz is a bit of a loose cannon -- and this album captures the band at one date on their much ballyhooed summer tour. Aside from the occasional bursts of guitar white noise, there's little to separate most of the versions from the albums, but it's interesting as a portrait of a band at the top of their game. The set list also cherry picks most of the highlights from their three albums, making it an ideal introduction for anyone not yet familiar with this often fantastic band.

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