Michael Columbia | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Michael Columbia

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"Dog Dog Camel," the lead track on this Chicago duo's new Stay Hard EP (on Galapagos4's Alabaster imprint), kicks off like a Day-Glo hybrid of Nintendo bonus-level music and the sound track to a B-grade spy movie. After a few seconds, though, they drop in a surprise: the stylized, semi-improvised pop electronica on their two full-lengths was strictly instrumental, but now they're adding the occasional multitracked vocal part. Drummer Dylan Ryan (of Icy Demons, Orso, and Herculaneum) and multi-instrumentalist David McDonnell (of the shamefully underappreciated psychedelic trio Bablicon, as well as Need New Body and Olivia Tremor Control) approximate their layered studio sound onstage without extra personnel: McDonnell switches from sequencer to bass to saxophone, playing along to loops he captures with a delay unit. The grooves veer from heavy dub to organic post-rock, and McDonnell's sax treads the tightrope between Miles Davis's terse diction and the creepy smoothness of a Sade cut; the lush vocals use meandering, cryptic melodies and half-intelligible lyrics to conjure up images of summer skies and neon-lit urban wildernesses. This free show is a release party for Stay Hard. Crush Kill Destroy and Mass Shivers open. Mon 5/1, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free.

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