Oui 73

Sex, Bullets & Fire Engines

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This ought to catch some by surprise. Well known in their native Buffalo but not elsewhere, three men/one woman foursome Oui 73 are a dense, chunky, robust group that is so well recorded, it's galaxies better than the mass of so-so-sounding indie rock records. Co-producer Paul Fitzgibbons' engineering and Dave Fridmann's (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, get it?) brilliant mastering job crackles with voltage and depth, of a deliberate, supple, and hearty rhythm section, and most of all, of meaty twin-guitars with equal parts distortion and reverb, making for a sound as clean and smoldering as it is impenetrable and commanding. Interestingly enough, this quartet once shared a festival bill with Catherine Wheel, one of the few other four-pieces with this sort of highly evolved, strongly defined, yet hefty sound, also working with big riff structures and steely power chords (and variety). Bassist/singer Richie Coffman doesn't quite have Rob Dickinson's vocal ardor, and he sometimes skirts the brawny melodies instead of attacking them dead on, but he has too much salt and sandpaper edge in his voice not to stand out (more than all those other alt-rock singers who outscream him, needlessly). And the band itself sounds so authoritative behind him on wicked hailstorms such as the soaring "Thirteen." In fact, this is one of those rare LPs where one listen is all it takes: doubling the chops of their OK 1997 debut, Princess, Sex, Bullets & Fire Engines is a formidable American LP of European-sounding might and mettle in search of a wider audience. (P.O. Box 1462, Buffalo, NY 14223; maryslounge@maryslounge.com)