Out Hud, Hella | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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Nowadays it seems that every band feels compelled to teach indie kids how to dance, but the members of Out Hud were doing it back when it seemed like a worthy project: armed with drum machines and possessed of a weakness for interminable song titles, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Sacramento collective began edutaining scenesters in the late 90s. But their big national break came in 2002 with the all-instrumental album S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D., which carefully interlocked guitar chatter and synth bloopery with funky bass-popping and cymbal-heavy disco beats. Their sometimes austere beatsmanship was warmed up--or just weirded up--by cellist Molly Schnick, and their subsequent single, "One Life to Leave," suggested they were taking a greater interest in more emotionally generous electro-funk. That warmth pervades the group's new full-length, Let Us Never Speak of It Again (Kranky), which also shows what charming vocalists Schnick and keyboardist Phyllis Forbes can be; the way they chirp together makes "It's For You" ring out like prime Tom Tom Club. Beatcraft remains their main reason for existence, though. "Dear Mr. Bush, There Are Over 100 Words for Shit and Only 1 for Music. Fuck You, Out Hud" has a groove as defiant as anything bohemia can muster, and though the song mostly lacks lyrics and entirely lacks bitterness, the message gets across: once you stop dancing, the bad guys win. --Keith Harris

For Church Gone Wild/Chirpin Hard (Suicide Squeeze), the members of the Sacramento duo Hella each made solo albums, then packaged them together--it's a chaotic, brutal-prog answer to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. And like that OutKast record, the whole is definitely less than the sum of its parts. Church Gone Wild, by drummer Zach Hill, features his usual barrage of relentless, complex rhythms, slathered with heaps of guitar feedback and disjointed, out-of-time riffing, piano banging, and shards of electronic noise; he sings actual melodies too, though his nasal screech is just as abrasive as the other instruments. Chirpin Hard, by guitarist Spencer Seim, is a splattery collage of video-game melodies, metallic chugging, and self-consciously trite pop-rock licks. Hill and Seim seem to have forgotten that their ferocious precision as a duo is what makes Hella work; instead, they've made an overindulgent mess that's easily the most annoying record I've heard all year. They've brought two additional musicians on tour to help play the new songs. --Peter Margasak

Out Hud headlines and Hella plays third; Pony Up and Magneta Lane open. Sat 4/16, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10.

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