The Coathangers, Burnt Ones, Free Machines; Club Congress, Sunday, April 6

When I last caught up with Free Machines at TLMS (now Gary's Place), the combination of the primitive sound system and tiny physical space emphasized the Tucson quartet's physical impact, with regards to overwhelming (but glorious) volume and its accompanying overtones. On Club Congress' new P.A., the band's fantastic songwriting, often quite pretty and poppy, and found on their excellent 7-inch Cursive Moon, merged with their powerful noise. Vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Teyechea has a knack for letting the sweetest of melodies collide with rock 'n' roll's thrilling roar. Playing songs from Cursive Moon, as well as from their upcoming full-length, Free Machines easily proved why they're one of Tucson's hottest bands at the moment.

If Burger Records hadn't snatched up Burnt Ones, DFA Records may have had to step in. But these days, Burger is the Death Row Records of independent rock music. Burnt Ones, on tour from San Francisco, possess elements of noisy no wave, the abrasive wail of the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy, and the tribal-disco rhythms found in some of the finest post punk. Adorning their two guitars, bass, and drums configuration with buzzing old synthesizers, Burnt Ones has a distinctive sound—cavernous and grand without any hint of pomp and circumstance. The group's songs may not be breaking ground, but when that guitar melody comes in, right after the vocals sign off, it's perfectly timed and provides the big release that other artists exploring similar terrain just don't have the instincts to successfully pull off.

The Coathangers have been a familiar presence in Tucson lately, playing more often than any band from Atlanta would typically have time for. Their set was as rousing and exciting as we've come to expect from them, but it's pretty impressive that they pulled it off following the recent departure of a key member. As a trio, The Coathangers sounded as full as ever, and the pulsing beats keep merging closer to the jagged guitar playing, until the group's performance takes on the feeling of the best underground New York DJ mixes from the early '80s, when genre, gender, and game plan had no relevance in a song's inclusion. The Coathangers don't fake the funk, and when they play, everybody is a star, even you.

More by Joshua Levine


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