This Moment in Black History | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This Moment in Black History

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"The Negro's role in the history of America? A good question," intones a 1950s-style voice-over in the opening moments of It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back (Cold Sweat), the second full-length from this Cleveland band. "Perhaps we can briefly try to answer this for you." Then commence the jackhammer beats, strangulated vocals, ricocheting atonal riffs, and shout-along codas--all of which work to connect black history to the history of a different kind of blackness, the one that runs from Black Flag to Big Black and beyond. (And yes, Steve Albini recorded Nation of Assholes.) With a precision-firing black rhythm section and a white guitarist and lead singer (who sometimes pitches in with dentist-drill synth), this four-piece mirrors the demographics of its hometown, whose population is half black and half white--and TMIBH's obnoxious art-punk can be seen as a nod to the city's history too, since the genre was practically invented in Cleveland. The group's daring humor gets a little lost amid the album's headlong assault, but onstage these guys are as crazily unhinged as their songs are tightly wound. Hot Cross headlines and Feelium opens. a 8 PM, Ronny's, 2101 N. California, 773-235-6591, $7.

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