(Kill Rock Stars)
Body Stories is a macabre but nonetheless highly skilled surgical grafting of queer and feminist politics to rambunctious no-wave rhythms. Members Hannah Blilie (drums, vocals), Devin Welch (guitars, keyboards), and Chris Pugmire (vocals, guitar) hurtle interrogatives and imperatives both with vocals (sometimes too forward in the mix) and dark, disjointed guitar work. Tackling issues ranging from sexual assault to the government's spy program, Shoplifting call to Seattle to arise out of its drunken garage-rock stupor and do something.
Others will be compelled to listen, of course. From the opening "M. Sally" straight through, Body Stories rarely gives up its tribal drive or its polytonality, with many tracks built almost exclusively on augmented and diminished chords. In "Syncope Riders," nether-gendered vocals drift about in an echo chamber, in search of a body and memories to which it can finally belong. If not for a mid-album instrumental and the vaporously nuanced closing track, Body Stories might have run the risk of becoming a noisy tantrum thrown by that friend who's always trying to get you to attend some rally or another. Instead, the sheer musicianship of its members makes the album smart, seductive, and commanding.
One hopes that Body Stories' one-sided rhetoric will not remain simply that—rhetorical—and that this isn't just a rabble-rousing shoulder on which a presently resurrected and popular genre can stand. Who cleans up the litter after the riot? As Body Stories is such an impressive first go, all await Shoplifting's deft response. NICK SCHOLL
Route de la Slack: Remixes and Rarities
Much like Underworld, UK producers James Taylor and David Brown assimilate dub, minimal techno, tech-house into a sound that's both cutting-edge and accessible. Route de la Slack: Remixes and Rarities is a welcome career stopgap, compiling onto two discs 20 tracks from throughout Swayzak's career. Some of the remixes offered on Route de la Slack are excellent. Their handling of Will Saul and Ursula Rucker's "Tic Toc" is particularly impressive, as the duo turns Rucker's voice into a percussive sound layered over popping blips and bleeps. The predominant sound of the rarities disc is murky dub and downtempo. Though essentially an obscurities collection, Route de la Slack is consistently good enough to stand against Swayzak's best albums (Himawari, Dirty Dancing). It should tide fans over until their next proper full-length. MOSI REEVES