Pop punk is a pretty ubiquitous commodity these days, but this trio from Durham, North Carolina, delivers it with a controlled urgency. Singer and guitarist Kaia Wilson (formerly of groundbreaking Portland dyke-punk band Team Dresch, as is drummer Melissa York) has a frankly pretty voice that starts high and frays into a squeal when she pushes it. She conveys excitability--and excitement--without sounding like she's straining for effect. On the new Make Yr Life (Yep Roc) she swoons and cracks notes but never loses her composure: listen to the second verse of "Send Me You" or the tremulous, rising "ah, ah, ah!" that vaults into the last chorus of "She's So Lovely." Though York's stick work is still hard and nimble, Make Yr Life feels a bit less punk than the Butchies' first three records, as if they were dialing it back to show off their songwriting--which is chewier than ever. That said, the highlight of the disc is the cover that closes it out, a slowed-down version of the Outfield's "Your Love" ("I just want to use your love tonight / I don't want to lose your love tonight"). Over sparse, muted backing, Wilson sings in a near whisper, and her performance is--no kidding--one of the sexiest things I've heard all year. Three Dollar Bill, Sleepover, the Apartment Burlesque Orchestra, and the Lickity Split Radical Cheerleaders open; this show is part of Estrojam (see Fairs & Festivals). Wednesday 22, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10, 18+.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Harris.