18th Dye, Devon Williams, Coupleskate | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

18th Dye, Devon Williams, Coupleskate Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Dec. 5, 10 p.m. 2008

Before 18th Dye even start playing on their new comeback album, Amorine Queen (Crunchy Frog), you can hear it’s them. A nasal 60-cycle amp hum, like the long decay of a church bell, summons your ear back to the sound of the trio’s landmark 1995 LP, Tribute to a Bus—Teutonic guitar abuse, corralled in sleek pop structures and tempered by simple, affecting melodies. This schizoid combination of explosive energy and serene lucidity grounds their music in the everyday—feedback, to me, doesn’t always conjure starship exhaust. The new album reins in the geometrically fractured aesthetic of Bus, which is unsurprising given that drummer Piet Breinholm and vocalist-guitarist Sebastian Büttrich played cool, ruminative electronica as Test after the breakup of 18th Dye in 1995. Bassist Heike Rädeker, who had a son during the band’s hiatus, has mellowed a little too—her lullabye voice is even gentler now. The old formula gets an update on “Chinese Spoon,” which wins this year’s prize for most arresting (and least expected) Auto-Tuned vocals. But Amorine Queen is still 18th Dye at heart: minimalist Danish-German design (Rädeker runs a retro furniture shop and Breinholm makes upscale replica school bags) applied to classic aggro indie rock. —J. Niimi As part of the punk trio Osker, Devon Williams released two albums on Epitaph in his late teens and early 20s; with the indie-folk band Fingers Cut Megamachine he put out two more. Now 27, he’s making his solo debut with Carefree (Ba Da Bing), a record that falls somewhere between those aesthetic poles—it’s pure pop that sounds inspired by half-forgotten 80s standard-bearers like the Go-Betweens, Tommy Keene, and the post-Chris Stamey dB’s (though some of the keyboard voices remind me of the 80s in a less agreeable way). Williams recorded the album sporadically across a year and a half, playing most of the guitar and bass himself and enlisting friends and colleagues to overdub the rest of the instruments (including the occasional wall-of-sound strings). Its release was held up while he spent a year as a touring guitarist with Lavender Diamond, but now that he has a steady live band of his own, his music should sound even tighter and sharper. —Peter Margasak Tonight’s bill, headliner first, is 18th Dye, Devon Williams, and Coupleskate.

Price: $10

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