Future Rock

Live in Wicker Park

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"We're a little strange," says Future Rock keyboardist Mickey Kellerman. "We don't fit into any genre." But as this live album demonstrates, the fact is that Future Rock fit quite nicely into at least two genres: like Prodigy, they are simultaneously committed to forward-looking electronica and meat-and-potatoes rock & roll. The opening track on Live from Wicker Park, "Romantic Rights," prompts the Prodigy comparison especially strongly, though on subsequent tracks -- especially the seemingly endless "Cosmos" -- they tend to settle into a discursive, almost jazzy mode that brings to mind a jam band as much as an aggro-electronica outfit. It's also interesting to note that several entries on this program are billed as "live remixes," which seems to imply that even as they're playing these tunes they're messing around with the arrangements and structure -- and if that isn't a 21st-century expression of the jam band ethos, what is? The energy is always high, even on the slower, funkier "Sun Lips," but too often the band's sound is just a bit on the relentless side; too few of these tracks breathe and develop. The impressive exception is "Blink," which closes the album on an especially powerful and rockish note, building emotion steadily and resolving the tension beautifully at the end. (Also worth noting are the sadly buried female vocals on the otherwise excellent "Understand the Sky.")

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