JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION, YEAH YEAH YEAHS
Showbox, 628-3151 , $20/$15 adv.
9 p.m. Tues., Sept. 24
Here are two things you should know about Brooklyn's Liars:
1. They're cool enough to have accidentally come across the early '80 Bronx-based underground art-funk outfit ESG and then hijacked a sample of their song "UFO" for a track on their lugubriously titled debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top.
2. And they're cool enough for frontman Angus Andrew to unironically claim that '80s dance-pop group C + C Music Factory has some of the best drumbeats in contemporary music, and you almost sort of want to believe him.
Almost. Sort of. When I tell Australian-born Andrew that I recently sailed right by a whole slew of C + C Music Factory LPs at a swap meet, he's totally incredulous. He literally cannot believe that I didn't buy them all, and I literally cannot believe that he actually thinks I should have.
"Just wait till I sample that shit," says the 25-year-old frontman in a manner so determined and deadpan that I almost have to laugh.
Cool is as cool does, and these days that ain't much—so I must admit I'm relieved when Andrew doesn't drop the requisite Wire, Gang of Four, and PiLtype references when we begin talking about his band's tweaked, taut aesthetic.
"In America, kids start getting into the indie-rock thing at around age 13. It wasn't like that for me," says the Aussie, adding the names of ultra un-punk outfits like Snap! and the KLF to his list of former favorites.
Because Liars songs are based on machine-generated drumbeats, Andrew's decidedly un-punk synth-pop origins actually make a whole lot of sense. Tracks like "Mr Your on Fire Mr," with its imploring introduction ("Do the twist, Mr. Ice Cream/C'mon dance, Miss Direction"), humanoid hand claps, mad cowbells, and cutting, angular guitar lines, can be properly categorized as art punk, but it'd be far more effective to start a whole new genre called accidental art punk—and then throw that shorthand heading in the ditch, too.
For his part, Andrew insists that he and his bandmates aren't consciously cultivating coolness or deliberately creating the next musical coup.
"We have cool friends, and we know people who make cool clothes, but we don't want to get caught up in it," he says, referring to the much-hyped clique of artists, musicians, and DJs currently crashing in the loft spaces and apartments of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
"It's all our work, and it can be ridiculed or loved—I just don't think we should be concerned with how it's received," Andrew says. "It's not intentionally about pushing it further and further away from people, but I think that's sort of how it goes. You sort of want to be doing the opposite of what people think you ought to be doing."
When pressed as to where that idea might take him, Andrew says he wants to keep going until the music gets "really, really wrong and really stupid."
So does this mean "really, really wrong and really stupid" will soon be synonymous with cool or uncool? On that point, Andrew isn't sure, but stay tuned.