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*** Blonde Redhead


(Smells Like Records)

They named themselves after a song by DNA, grand-uncles of the New York underground, and their bio is as New York as Ellis Island. Italian-born guitarist and vocalist Amedeo Pace met Japanese guitarist and vocalist Kazu Makino after dropping out of Berklee and moving to NYC five years ago. In time, they fell in love, broke up, and formed a band with Amedeo's twin brother on drums and a succession of Japanese women on bass.

At first listen, their arty vocals, alternate tunings, seesaw dynamics, and psychodramatic lyrics recall their close mentors and business partners Sonic Youth (SY drummer Steve Shelley owns their label). But this fine second album shows how much that bio also matters. Where American rock-and-rollers might fret over their jazz chops, Blonde Redhead give equal weight to their raw minimalism and exacting skill. Where many boy-girl groups play down internal sexual tensions, Kazu and Amedeo feed on them. And where most Americans know only America, this band add vocals suggestive of Japanese art-song and musical touches full of Mediterranean romance. File under "World Music: The Indestructible Beat of Soho."

- Franklin Soults


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