Trotsky Icepick

Carpetbomb the Riff

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Four of these folks date back to the late-'70s L.A. punk explosion. Two-thirds of the Urinals (nee 100 Flowers), singer John Talley-Jones (bass for that older band), and guitarist Kjehl Johansen, one-fifth of the Last, guitarist Vitus Matare (keyboards for that older band, famous underground producer), and one-quarter of Middle Class, bassist Mike Patton (later Cathedral of Tears with Jack from original T.S.O.L..). Quite a pedigree, wouldn't you say? Enough background. With this, their sixth LP, Trotsky Icepick have now released more albums in six years than those three bands combined (not counting the two the Last have made since they re-formed without Matare). They never change much year after year, 'cause they don't have to; their Wire/early Mekons/Gang of Four/Scars-ish harsh, eccentric pop never runs out of new places to explore -- here they even try a quasi-ska beat with success on the LP's most convincing track, "Home Surgery." Using harsh, changing rhythms (white funk, four/four rock, dance beats, you name it), pop choruses that build on scattershot verses, and that frugal, penurious, piercing guitar attack, Trotsky skirt the borders of art rock, thinking man's rock, and the best of highbrow, but primal post-punk aggression like those early English Fast Product days, or more precisely, much like 100 Flowers used to. Keep those carpetbomb riffs coming; the players are aging, not their music.

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