Rhythm & Views

Blonde Redhead

KAZU MAKINO and her accomplices in Blonde Redhead, twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace, have come a long way since their initial signing to Smells Like Records (owned and operated by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley) in the early '90s. They have endured many comparisons to their avant-rock forefathers in Sonic Youth and others in the avant-noise genre. Not that those comparisons completely missed the mark, but anyone who has caught them live can attest to the uncompromising originality, musicianship and general like-ability that is Blonde Redhead.

Combining their classical training with an avant-rock/DIY ethic, they can sound like a thousand crunching guitars one minute and note-choosey minimalists the next. On top of this, their cute foreign accents (Makino is Japanese and the Pace brothers are Italian) give their vocals an endearing quality.

The songs on their latest offering, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (produced by Fugazi's Guy Picciotto), tell the story of a certain two lovers and their "damaged" romance and tumultuous lives. Like on previous albums, Makino trades off singing duties with Amadeo, her significant other.

Musically, Melody's quieter moments and Abbey Road-sounding melodies may surprise fans. But this is what makes it the group's most interesting effort yet. Ranging from wall-of-sound guitar rocking to piano ballads and even some Momus-esque keyboard noodling, Melody has the band expanding its sound and proving that it is not a one-trick act. In short, it's made a downright pretty, engaging, sad and happy record that sounds like, well, Blonde Redhead!