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Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments

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Amid the twisted Columbus punk-rock renaissance spearheaded by New Bomb Turks, Gaunt, and V3, no band is more absurd than Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, which has been churning out a terrific, if erratic, stream of outsider punk rock for almost five years and earning complete indifference from all but the most fervent record collectors. Not content to be merely marginal, they handicap themselves at every turn. TJSA practice an open-door policy, i.e., each record rarely has the same personnel, but they're all led by the inimitable Ron House. (His greatest brush with success was in the criminally ignored Great Plains, a band that forged an odd mix of off-kilter roots music, 60s punk, and goofball humor with titles like "Martin Luther King and Martin Luther Drinking" and "Alfalfa Omega.") Musically TJSA don't subscribe to the strict punk formalism of some of their fellow townies; they bash out a spirited, often catchy, recklessly careening brew that borders on outright sloppiness. Most of the band's records are limited-release seven-inch singles, a strategy that asserts their anti-music biz predilection without suggesting that they cater to the collector-scum mentality. Their most recent single is titled Negative Guest List (Siltbreeze), and a few years ago they gave away an EP, You Can't Kill Stupid (Datapanik), to promote a limited-edition single--a nicely arrogant parody of a promotion-happy industry. They recently signed with Rick Rubin's American Records for a one-off album; go figure. What does make sense is that after turning down offers of paying gigs, the band makes its long-overdue Chicago debut at a benefit for the Baffler. Friday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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