Flu Thirteen

In the Foul Key of V

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What exactly is indie rock? In the '80s and '90s that term was defined by jangle pop bands in the post-R.E.M. mode, garage rock bands like the Replacements, roots rock, and post-punk. In the 2000s, it is more likely to be a clanging, haranguing, post-industrial smash-mouth mix of emo rock and rhythmic muscle. The hardworking, ashen-mad quartet Flu Thirteen are certainly good at creating an unholy racket. They're loud, irritated, and raw as a picked scab; as subtle as dynamite exploding in your mouth; and they've also got the bass/drums thump down pat. What differentiates them from the pack is the same thing that made Jawbox a good band: They've got straight-ahead, impassioned, hooky singing from leader Tomas, instead of a string of tuneless shouts. There are even some quiet but firm harmonies. This whole interesting mix of clanging mess, pounding aggression, and yearning vocals is brought out like a bomb by producer J. Robbins, the center of Jawbox before they split. His work is an improvement over Steve Albini's serviceable efforts on Flu Thirteen's debut single in 1995, or two others on Spin Cycle. Boom. Boom. Crack. Boom. Flu Thirteen and their sledgehammers are here.

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