The Erudites, JJCNV, Chariots of Failure; The Flycatcher, Friday, Aug. 22
While far from breaking news, and not even necessarily the news at all, it never ceases to surprise me—in the most pleasant way possible—how a little 40-year-old sub-genre of rock 'n' roll called punk has grown to be a world just as large as rock 'n' roll itself, if not an eclipse of its parent.
Chariots of Failure, recently upgraded to a quintet by new singer Cherish Rendon, is to Fugazi-era post hardcore as The Rolling Stones were to classic Chicago Electric Blues. The Tucson-based band used intricate and angular guitar lines combined with dub-wise rhythms as building blocks that were completely assimilated into melodic and crafty songs. Rendon's hypnotic, laid-back vocals tempered what could have been a combative, yet still eloquent, racket, and her restraint added a dimension of personalized, subtle melancholy to the material. Chariots of Failure's music was thick and edgy, brimming with momentary collisions of noise that ended up as indelible hooks on their own. Though this band doesn't perform as often as one would prefer, they do continue to develop into greatness at an alarming pace, and hopefully Chariots of Failure will be making more frequent appearances in the near future.
While Chariots of Failure used dynamic and tonal shifts as a will to power, the Phoenix trio JJCnV was far more ragged—emphasizing the nervous and discordant pulse inherent in the original British post-punk bands like Fugazi were rooted in. That's hardly a criticism, however. Gang of Four, The Fall and The Slits, among countless others, reached their own plateau by throttling through electrocution grooves, and JJCnV followed suit. Like their contemporaries in the The Coathangers, JJCnV turned down the artiness and overt politicism of their '70s predecessors, took the death out of the disco and were left with a gritty dance party that was fantastic.
Tucson threesome The Erudites reworked the gas station employee, Fonzie-punk sensibilities of Social Distortion's county-leaning '90s records, with some ghoulish Misfits accessorizing. The band's short, hooky songs jumped, jived and wailed but with an authentic anger usually absent from this brand of trad-punk. And that's what made the material stick and feel alive. The Erudites' short set kept the energy high and served to vitalize their courageous take on punk rock grave robbing.