Muffs, Visqueen | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Muffs, Visqueen

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If you want to make the case for the continuing artistic viability of pop punk, this old-school/new-school pairing is Exhibit A. Headliners the Muffs emerge from a self-imposed hiatus with their first new album since 1999's stellar Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow. Leader Kim Shattuck engineered nearly all the tracks for Really Really Happy (Five Foot Two) in her kitchen, and while the disc doesn't pack the same sonic punch as the band's three classic major-label records from the mid-90s, Shattuck's snarling riffs, melodic savvy, and guttersnipe lyrics are as potent as ever. Seattle's Visqueen, meanwhile, has frequently been tagged as Puget Sound's answer to the Muffs: it's another hard-rocking coed three-piece, featuring Kim Warnick, former front woman of the legendary Fastbacks and as close to an opposite number as Shattuck has anywhere. Here, however, Warnick is in support mode, providing harmony vocals and buzz-saw bass behind singer-guitarist Rachel Flotard, a pint-size, redheaded spitfire whose raw, rasping voice manages to taunt and seduce in equal measure. On its 2003 debut, King Me, Visqueen reclaimed the pop-punk concept from the post-Blink 182 hordes with a 27-minute assault of sugar-rush choruses and razor-wire riffage. The band's second treatise on garage bubblegum, the brand-new Sunset on Dateland (Blue Disguise), sounds even better than the first; thanks to producer Phil Ek (who did the Shins' latest, as well as some of the Muffs' earliest) and mixer Adam Kasper (Foo Fighters, Weezer), the CD retains every decibel of Visqueen's room-rattling live sound. Telenovela and Crimson Sweet open. Wednesday 29, 9 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 day of show. The Muffs also play a free in-store earlier in the evening: 5 PM, Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark, 773-477-5994.

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

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