This San Francisco four piece is so annoying you may find yourself tearing its records off your stereo and hurling them across the room--and I mean that as a compliment. As far back as the Buzzcocks' "Boredom," with its endlessly oscillating two-note hook, great punk has ridden the knife's edge between the exhilarating and the intolerable, and the Peechees' debut, Do the Math (Kill Rock Stars), likewise dishes out a solid 27 minutes of catchy, razor-sharp radio jingles for the mentally ill. Christopher Appelgren's thin, nasal vocals most strongly suggest Leonard Graves Phillips of LA clowns the Dickies, but the band also takes instrumental inspiration from Brits like the Damned, the Adverts, Wire, and Spizzenergi. "I got a problem with my homework," Appelgren whines on the title song. "Could you assist me with the meaning of X?" Behind him, guitarist Carlos Canedo lays down cement-block bar chords and the occasional wiggy hook, driven halfway off the road by ex-Bratmobile drummer Molly Neuman. Musically, the recent Games People Play is more of the jittery same, though frequently the lyrics spin out into weirdness worthy of Ionesco--on "Lose the Motorcade (and Live It Up)" Appelgren declares, "You may not see me, but you could see me sneak down a corridor / You can have me, but you may not have me / So drink your milk shake." Whatever: aside from the occasional beguiling chorus, you won't be able to decipher much through Appelgren's Jerry-Lewis-on-speed delivery anyway. If you feel like having your nerves wracked, this is definitely the ticket--just get someone else to drive you home. Tuesday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Wednesday, 8 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700. J.R. JONES
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Danielle Damasius.