It's been awhile since I heard anything this interesting. Sure, there are lots of weirdo bands out there, making a funky mess of noise out of a determination to create outside the norm but only a scant few make the trip worthwhile. Course Velvet Underground blazed the trail nearly 40 years ago for experimentalists like Shoplifting.
And while some lift their material straight out of Velvet pockets, Shoplifting merely take their cue from the proto-punk legends. Their four-song self-titled debut, produced by former Unwound leader Justin Trosper, is also undeniably in debt to Sonic Youth, notably, thanks to bassist Michelle Nolan and drummer Hannah Billie, whose vocals sound a bit like Kim Gordon. Still, the mood shifts and abrasive emotions are theirs alone and, without question, seal the deal they're a great band, they're their own band.
Sometimes featuring sassy vocal interplay between the singers, who also include frontman Chris Pugmire, the record finds its strength in bizarre guitar tunings (yep, from Devin Welch), scratched, pained vocals, and drumming that follows no time and works because of it. "Ask Me" haunts with a single droning guitar line and doomsday drumming as the vocalist sneers and begs desperately, "Ask me, ask me what's between my legs."
Opener "L.O.V.E." features Gordon-like breathy coos that lash out to pushy growls and guitar work that speeds and spirals. "Raw Nails Now" stands out as the record's highlight for its mid-song breakdown, led by big ominous marching beats, tooting horns and sweet serenading.
Just when I think the days of edgy punk-rock experimentation that sounds new and exciting are through, a band like Shoplifting comes along and proves me wrong. And thank God for that!