Here Comes Irregular
Night of a Hundred Hondos
Salt on Assault
Very Important Fun Person
Before a little invention called “The Internet” made it possible for the entirety of history’s musical output to be accessed with a wireless password and a keyboard, there was a slightly sexier invention called college radio. If you were lucky enough to live in a town with a radio staff hip enough to know what was what, your musical universe could be blown to smithereens by obscure gems like…well, like The Smithereens, I guess, but so many others as well. While music snobs older than me will rightly consider the 80s college radio’s apex, my radio days encompassed those heady mid-to-late 90s, just after Nirvana made indie rock cool and just before Death Cab made indie rock lame. Back then, in a little Central Wisconsin college town, I found the smallest pocket of cool at a radio station whose signal barely crossed Lake Winnebago. My late-night freeform shifts consisted of grabbing whatever LPs, CDs, and minidiscs(!) looked the craziest, from the high-octane noise of Drive Like Jehu to the WTF-named Archers of Loaf, to a dog-eared record sleeve buried in the back library by some band called Big Black, which is about the creepiest thing you can play in a deserted radio station at four in the morning, believe you me. But yeah, now we have the Internet, and if you pull up the Google machine and type in a nonsense string of words such as “Like Like The The The Death,” you can get an entire five-year 1990s college radio run distilled into a concise 35 minutes.
No, seriously: just two hours down Highway 45 from my college years reigns one of Milwaukee’s most exciting (and thusly ignored by everyone but the heppest of cats—see how they’re like college radio?) acts going now. Like Like The The The Death (we’ll just go with LLTTTD, since it’s easier to type) are noisy like Jehu, catchy like Superchunk, and have a ridiculous nonsense name like the Archers, and they recorded a record called Cave Jenny that wraps ‘em up in a tight little ball of antimatter and blasts them through reality into the present and beyond. Twin guit-slingers Anthony Weber and Michael Marchant handle their instruments like beekeeper field recordings, while Weber and bassist Kyle Scheuer try to out-shout each other on “Here Comes Irregular,” the opening salvo in Cave Jenny’s half-hour game of noise-rock tag. It’s your classic “one dude screams and one dude kinda sings sorta” formula that scoops some sugar in with the medicine, adding enough pop candy to the mix to make the whole concoction as addictive as a bag of Sour Patch Kids. Meanwhile, drummer Dan Hanke keeps things chugging full force with clockwork precision (the dude did spend the last year holding down the throne behind Die Kreuzen’s kit between Eric Tunison’s flights into the country for shows, ya know).
The real one-two punch that sums up Cave Jenny’s reason for living, though, is the infectious “Cry Tag” into the scorching “Hypnic Jerk.” The former is my kind of pop gem - a bonifide golden hook wrapped in a bastard time signature and dueling vocals working in a round with the instrumentation. It’s the most effective kind of basic thinking man’s indie rock, the kind in which you can shut off your brain and lose yourself in a hail of pumped fists and half-memorized, half-half-assed shoutalongs, probably about Pokemon or some shit. And “Hypnic Jerk?” Forget about it - Weber and Marchant do their best Reis/Froberg impression, tag-teaming through battlebot riffs and laser blasts set to “flay.”
Let’s face it—indie rock these days just doesn’t have the “holy shit” urgency it had back in those CMJ 200 days. Today, dissonant, teeth-itching pop-noise doesn’t get a lot of attention unless it’s someone from the 90s reuniting for a nostalgia run. So it’s a beautiful thing witnessing LLTTTD producing ballsy rock ‘n’ roll that’s immediate, thrilling, and run through enough effects pedals to pay for DigiTech’s employee benefits package. No one’s listening to this shit anymore, so by definition, it oughta sound fresh, new, and exciting to the youth of today, right? Here’s hoping that in an age of infinite Internet static, LLTTTD’s signal peeks through just enough for the kids to discover the joys of Sebadoh’s brand of Gimme Indie Rock all over again, just like a sheltered small-town Wisconsin kid taking that first step into college radio’s much larger world. – DJ Hostettler
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