Xiu Xiu

"Accessible" is the worst curse someone could give a band like Xiu Xiu, which revels in its experimentation and just plain weirdness like songwriter Jamie Stewart's lyrics revel in every type of sadness and longing, from unexpected love to redemptive suicide to sexual abuse. So, instead let's say the band's latest album, Fabulous Muscles, is more blatantly beautiful than previous efforts. Dissonance and noise are used like instruments, an element of each song rather than the end product. The current live lineup--Stewart and Caralee McElroy--perform these songs (and others from Xiu Xiu's prolific output) with a sparse but bizarre group of instruments, re-creating album tracks in raw, delicate, noisy, tense, fevered, heart-wrenching ways.
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Shannon Sutlief