These Arms are Snakes, River Cit Tanlines | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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These Arms are Snakes, River Cit Tanlines


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For their previous releases, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES devised a uniquely enervating combo of bratty, straining, deliberately abrasive vocals and twitchy, self-indulgent mathcore. This Seattle band's second full-length, the new Easter (Jade Tree), is even grimmer than those records--it's full of nasty surprises to keep you feeling ill at ease, and its rhythms and structures feel put together sideways, so that even the stop-start build-and-crash dynamics seem to be rising and falling in loops and tangles rather than straight lines. Thankfully the righteous screaming and grating noise are still broken up here and there by swatches of song you can sing along to. --Monica Kendrick

Alicja Trout is probably the single most exciting thing the garage scene has going for it: she's as much R 'n' R flash as she is punk integrity, with future promise to match her status as an ex-member of some of Memphis's finest, chief among them the legendary Lost Sounds. She runs the singles label Contaminated Records, she's got smoldering solos for days, and she's the only woman--or so he told her--that Arthur Lee of Love ever played music with. (She was in the band he was putting together shortly before he died.) On I'm Your Negative (Dirtnap), her first proper LP with the RIVER CITY TANLINES (the other record's a singles collection), she ditches the lo-fi fuzz that used to obscure her vocals--now she sounds like Cherie Currie times Rob Tyner, combining fervent forcefulness with hard-edged coo and sass. The songs keep it Memphis, but Trout's got an obvious love for pre-1980 California punk, making for breakneck bluesy bubblegum rock that's all spit and swagger. The rhythm section of John Bonds and Terrence Bishop is a longtime unit--they've backed R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, and the Tearjerkers, among many others--and here they play gritty and simple so the spotlight can stay where it belongs. Last time I saw the Tanlines, Trout closed the set sweating through a strapless black evening gown with her foot up on the monitor and letting loose a stupefying lead that was like Billy Gibbons by way of Sonic Youth. --Jessica Hopper

These Arms Are Snakes headline, Mouth of the Architect plays third, the River City Tanlines go on second, and the Young Widows open. a 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 18+.

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