Les Savy Fav, The Dismemberment Plan
The greater Dallas-Fort Worth area is quite a haul from Providence, Rhode Island, but on Friday and Saturday night this weekend, you'd be forgiven if you forgot that for a while, so admirably do the two bands headlining Rubber Gloves reimagine Rhode Island School of Design alumni the Talking Heads' art-damaged post-punk white-boy funk (or whatever you wanna call it, give or take a hyphen or two). To show they know their stuff (as these underground bachelor-of-arts types so often do), the bands--Washington, D.C.'s Dismemberment Plan and Brooklyn's Les Savy Fav--cover both ends of the Heads spectrum: the jittery, angular rhythmic elasticity that distinguished the band from its contemporaries and the open-armed tunefulness that brought it its eventual commercial success.
Change, the Dismemberment Plan's excellent new album, might well be this little mini-scene's Remain in Light: On songs such as "Following Through," the band inflates its indie-guitar foundation with chewy time signatures and textural elements--watery keyboards and so on--just like David Byrne and his band did 20 years ago. But though this is the record people will remember, Go Forth, the new one by Les Savy Fav (who actually attended RISD and then, like the Heads, moved to New York City for extra grit between their teeth), makes that wiry guitar crunch sound as full of potential as More Songs About Buildings and Food did pre-Remain in Light--less realized, maybe, but just as exciting.
That bottled-up intensity is what LSF seem to be all about. Go Forth, their third full-length, is 43 minutes of buildup that doggedly circumvents the payoff Dismemberment Plan singer Travis Morrison always provides with his funny-pathetic tales of post-art-school mishaps; it's just sharp-as-nails guitars and vertical-horizon bass lines and jagged synths as creamy as a Bloody Mary, churning and whirring and writhing around singer Tim Harrington's silver-lined bark. There's less pomo pop to grab onto here than there was on Rome (Written Upside Down), the terrific five-song EP LSF issued last year, but Harrington's definitely making a bid for Byrne's wryly erudite wordplay: "Who here finds this world distracting?/Who here finds this world a bore?/Who here thinks we're all play-acting?/And that the show's piss-poor?" he yowls over guitarist Seth Jabour's skinny-tie din on "Crawling Can Be Beautiful." At Rubber Gloves on Friday, the band, whose electricity really gets crackling onstage, should have no problem conjuring the spirit of their aging RISD forebears; stay for the Plan on Saturday and see history--East Coast art-rock division, anyway--repeat itself.
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