Algiers, Ono | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Algiers, Ono Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Mon., June 15, 8 p.m. 2015

On Algiers’s self-titled debut, released earlier this month by Matador, this transatlantic trio of displaced southerners—front man and guitarist Franklin James Fisher, guitarist Lee Tesche, and bassist Ryan Mahan, split between New York and London—drive the naked grief and passion for justice of vintage soul and gospel into an end-times confrontation with the posthuman bleakness of apocalyptic postpunk and industrial new wave. Fisher’s hoarse, full-throated singing, the band’s choirlike backing vocals, and Mahan’s loping, driving, joyously athletic bass strain against starkly regimented percussion whose syncopated dance-floor stings sound like they’re played by machines even when they’re not. Volatile, acidic guitars, erupting in corrosive streaks and torrents, scar the steely surfaces of tolling, merciless synth-dominated grooves that echo like the engine of an empty tanker ship. This tug-of-war keeps the songs electrifying despite a shortage of melodic hooks—and the lyrics bridge the divide, fusing the politicized anger of punk with gospel’s compassion for the downtrodden. The throbbing, slow-burning “Blood” furiously indicts anyone who imagines we live in a “postracial” society: “Four hundred years of torture / Four hundred years a slave,” Fisher sings, his muscular voice tearing itself to rags. “Dead just to watch you squander / Just what we tried to save.” And the mournful, swinging dirge “Remains” condemns those who exploit the underclass created by slavery: “While the captors boast on how they lower your costs / The rich men gamble at the foot of the cross.” —Philip Montoro

Price: $12

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