Volcano! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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On their new debut album, Beautiful Seizure (Leaf), these local avant-rockers confound the expectations that normally bracket drums-guitar-noise free-spaz. The vocals tend to be the weakest link in groups this frenetically schizo--they don't make Super Metal pedals for windpipes, after all. But Volcano!'s singer doesn't just randomly grab from a bag of party tricks--he unveils his ideas with a mischievousness that recalls a less histrionic version of Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart. (Though I suppose most anybody this side of Wild Man Fischer is less histrionic than that.) On "Apple or a Gun" he flips the nitrous switch halfway through, channeling Jeff Lynne's chorused logorrhea on "Turn to Stone," then decelerates into freako prose like "What would you have done / With a gift that's so ambiguous / It could be an apple or a gun?" in the voice of someone on mescaline telling a 911 operator that his toilet's trying to kill him. Leaf is better known for ambient electronica like Efterklang and Caribou--Volcano! are the first rock band it's signed in its ten-year history--but the twinkling clamor in the middle of "$40,000 Plus Interest" does recall the work of labelmates Hanne Hukkelberg and Colleen, so it's not as though this is a total departure for the label. Still, props to Leaf for picking a rock band with such sharp teeth: on Beautiful Seizure Volcano! might follow up an eventful round of red-light-green-light with a digital mass, and because they can do melody, they've got even farther to plummet when they drive their songs off a cliff at full speed. This show is a release party. Blood on the Wall headlines and the Psychic Ills open. Thu 12/8, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.

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