Loraxx

Yellville

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AllMusic Review by

At first listen, it may not appear that this Chicago trio has evolved much from its debut, Canada. After all, there's the band's familiar, echoing drums rolling over the jutted, thunderous bass. Then there's lead singer Arista Strungys crashing into the song with her scorching, piercing yell. "You crossed me," she growls on "Dusters," and it's hard not to picture her delivering the line with her teeth firmly gritted. Then the song gives way to the urgently roaring rush of "Milton." Then that one is over in less than 40 seconds. Yep, this appears to pretty much be where the band left off, but it's not. Just as Chicago has its deep-dish pizza and its World Series-less baseball teams, it has its hardcore punk. Following in the grand tradition of Big Black, the Jesus Lizard, and Shellac, Loraxx creates fierce, pounding, and studiously intricate hide-the-pets, smash-the-walls, and duck-for-cover punk rock. But even as Strungys' alarming guitar cuts its way through the advanced interplay of bassist Santash Isaac and drummer Elliott Talarico to create a concrete barrage of noise -- this happens on about half of Yellville's songs -- Loraxx has subtly improved, while also setting itself apart from its predecessors. Take, for instance, the way Isaac's bass snakes its way in and around Talarico's dense pounding on "Dusters," or the way Strungys' guitar is aggressively treated like a washboard on "Milton." One must also make note of her eight-second scream that concludes the song. It's the kind of the thing that inspires the use of words like guttural and primal, but it's also the kind of thing that will have listeners hunting for lozenges. However, for all her talents as a howler, Strungys is now confident enough in her vocals to not always resort to yelling until her eyes pop out, and as she snarls her way through "22," she becomes an even more terrorizing force. It's these calming moments that have always added to Loraxx's creepiness, and Isaac and Talarico continually let their instruments pause to create a little eerie space on Yellville. In fact, there's a noteworthy moment on each of the CD's 11 tracks (which the band once again recorded with indie rock hero Steve Albini), but listeners must pay close attention because the whole thing is over in 20 minutes. It's a brief, blunt, and excitingly cathartic release that ends just before you'd need an aspirin.

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