Country Teasers | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Country Teasers


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In my mind two things stand out about the first Country Teasers show I saw: the band doing poppers onstage, cackling wildly and in clear sight of the crowd, and guitarist Alastair Mackinven obliging a drunk young woman who bitched that the set hadn't offended her enough by calling her a dirty cunt. That was in 1999, shortly after the release of the Teasers' third full-length, Destroy All Human Life. Front man Ben Wallers has home-recorded enough new material for ten albums since then, releasing it on 90-minute cassettes under the name the Rebel, but until this year the Country Teasers proper had managed only a live album, two odds-and-sods collections, and a record that consisted largely of songs from the Rebel tapes. Last fall they gave the studio another shot, and the result, The Empire Strikes Back (In the Red), makes their shit-flinging early stuff seem coherent by comparison. Their 1995 record Satan Is Real Again was a nasty, groovy hate-fuck masterpiece concocted by a whiskey-fueled band more interested in telling Holocaust jokes than learning chord progressions, but the new one's even harder to get a handle on: the lead track turns into a deadpan cover of Pink Floyd's "In the Flesh" halfway through, and the rest of the disc winds through a series of narratives loosely connecting modern-day England and Muslim extremism with World War II and Star Wars. London, Wallers intones, is "a lot more like Mos Eisley than it used to be / For instance, in the 50s and the 70s / It was like the fucking Death Star." The band is surprisingly tight, at least by Teasers standards, and even when the songs are at their most chaotic--three guitars colliding with Realistic keyboards, theremin, reversed drums, and running faucets--they're hysterically pretty. "Panic Holiday," which begins with the line "Little house on the prairie, 9/11 rape scene," also provides the band's new manifesto: "I wanted something nice to juxtapose with two things nasty / I find juxtaposition of that kind real tasty." Pengo and Spires That in the Sunset Rise open. Fri 5/19, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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