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Chicks on Speed

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CHICKS ON SPEED

On the back of their first album, Will Save Us All! (Chicks on Speed), the three members of Munich's Chicks on Speed bury their names in the album credits, demolishing any hierarchy of performer and producer--hell, even their Web mistress gets equal billing. It's not that Kiki Moorse, New Yorker Melissa Logan, and Melbourne native Alex Murray-Leslie are so staunchly egalitarian--it's that the whole point of Chicks on Speed is to highlight the manufacturing process that produces modern pop music, in which their role is that of paper-doll front women. The Chicks came together in 1997 at the Munich School of Art, where, for a project that explored the merchandising of pop bands, they made paraphernalia for a band that didn't exist. When they decided to take it a step further, forming a band whose music would revel in its own artificiality, their first release was a cover of the Normal's "Warm Leatherette," one of the most simplistic and robotic pop songs in history. It was a good choice--an amateurish cover of a song that flaunted its author's utter lack of musicianship. They've since written a number of humorous lyrics, including some for a rickety funk gem called "Yes I Do!" which contains the lines "Fashion victim on the air / I shaved off all my pubic hair / Sometimes they think I'm vermin / I've got more faces than Cindy Sherman." But their covers of new wave classics, by bands like the B-52's and the Delta 5, are almost more interesting, because the differences between them and the originals make for clearer commentary on the process. The Chicks themselves have almost nothing to do with the music, an entertaining mix of digital hardcore, house, techno, white noise, electro, new wave, and pop contributed by an expanding list of hot European electronic music producers, including Florian Hecker, Gerhard Potuznik, Patrick Pulsinger, Ramon Bauer, and Christopher Just. Different versions of the same songs exist on the trio's debut and the more recent The Re-Releases of the Un-Releases (K); in fact the latter alone includes three radically different takes on Delta 5's "Mind Your Own Business." When the Chicks perform live they sing and shout along to backing tracks they bring along on minidisc. It's tough to see where their gimmick might go from here, but it's pretty tasty for a flavor of the month. Tuesday, April 17, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

PETER MARGASAK

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

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