In the mid-'00s, 99 Records is taking over. ESG and Liquid Liquid are
doing gigs. Reissues are all over the place. Twenty-year-old Bush
Tetras tracks sound more current than the new Beck record. The 99
sound and philosophy are the main inspiration for Optimo, the best DJs
out right now (sez me). Not bad for a label that's been defunct
If 99 had lasted until 1995, maybe we would have had a record like
Let Us Never Speak of It Again 10 years earlier. OK, maybe
it's too self-consciously "dance" for that to be the perfect analogy,
but we're talking a decade's worth of evolution if ass-shakin' Out
Hud can land on Kranky, the home of the drone, surely a little
indie-rock-meets-acid-house could have infiltrated 99 MacDougal Street.
As it is, now that they've added vocals, Out Hud at their best sound
like Maurice Fulton backing ESG, which some people have noted like it's
a negative development.
To the contrary, Let Us Never is the latest sophomore album to
make its creator's (actually really good) debut sound kinda paltry.
(Previously in series: Edan. Next in series: The Hold Steady.)
S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. bewitched with its dubbed-out
four-on-the-floor soundscapes and unwieldy song titles, and Out Hud have
always had a sick live show, but it's not until now that they've
outgrown the designation of "!!!'s sister band" to become their own
Nic Offer (one of the bands' shared members) doesn't handle the vocals
for Out Hud, although it's a solid bet that he wrote the title of this
instrumental: "Dear Mr. Bush, There Are Over 100 Words for Shit and
Only 1 for Music. Fuck You, Out Hud." Instead of !!!'s
bongload-o'-politics, Phyllis Forbes and Molly Schnick offer up more
subtle scenarios, like their invocation of the dreamlike but
heart-pounding moment when you wake up to a 4 a.m. phone call and hear
nothing but breathing on the other end ("It's for You"). What happens
next? Club piano kicks in, natch.
The vocal tracks are the album's best it drags a little toward the
end, where "Mr. Bush" lasts as long as its title implies but the
storming "Song So Good They Named It Thrice" might be its centerpiece.
The cascading layers at the track's opening (synths? guitars? does it
matter?) fall away in favor of echoey space bass and a gentler melody,
only to build back up and do the whole thing again, and again,
until it sloooows down and stops right when you're expecting that
twisted static to kick in one last time.