Deerhoof | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This San Francisco band is hardly the first to juxtapose sugary pop melodies and angular guitar rock, but with its latest album, Milk Man (Kill Rock Stars/5RC), Deerhoof has elevated the trick to an art form. Singer and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki delivers bubblegum hooks in a voice so mousy and naive it's a wonder it holds up so well to the seesawing, grinding riffs and explosions behind her. In the past the band has played the contrast to humorous rather than tense effect, but on this record they use it to pull the rug out from under themselves--the title track revs up modestly until guitarists Chris Cohen and John Dieterich peel off a zigzagging unison line that erupts into a connect-the-dots rumble, only to quickly return to more gentle terrain. On the instrumental "Rainbow Silhouette of the Milky Rain," tight riffs build in heft and ferocity but deny the expected crescendo by slipping into a paranoid electro-noise groove. The roller-coaster structure is employed on every track, but the quartet's grip on dynamics and its overriding tunefulness keep it from becoming tiresome. 54-71 and Head of Femur open. Wednesday, April 28, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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