Brassy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Like Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Muffin Spencer emigrated to the UK in search of rock, moving from her native New Hampshire to Manchester in 1985--while her older brother Jon was in New York starting Pussy Galore. After a decade of bartending, trying to play music in the narrowly fashionable town, and watching her brother become an indie-rock icon, Muffin hooked up with guitarist Stefan Gordon, drummer Jonny Barrington (aka turntablist DJ Swett), and eventually bassist Karen Frost (Spencer insisted on a second woman) to form Brassy. On their full-length debut, Got It Made (Wiiija), they pump out out an exhilarating mix of old-school punk and old-school hip-hop, similar in tone to Elastica's The Menace but rougher around the edges. The songs lurch between rapped rock narratives and turntable tableaux, with Spencer and Frost out front like cheerleaders, announcing on "No Competition": "Nothing can compete / Nothing can compete / Nothing can compete / With the B-R-A-double-S-Y beat." Spencer also works overtime to live down her cutesy handle with songs like "I Gotta Beef": "I gotta beef with you / I gotta meet with you / You got a word for me / You use it to my face / You wanna try me I'll give you / A taste." Meanwhile Barrington cooks up some killer grooves, from the slinky funk and scratching of "Parkside" to the rock-solid snare drum and pizzicato strings of "That's the Way." The chanting grows stale by the end of the record, which peters out with the sludgy "B.R.A.S.S.Y." But the material that works is guaranteed to fill the dance floor--which in Manchester would surely be a compliment. This is a late show; the Dishes open. Friday, 11 PM, September 14, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eva Vermandel.

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