Kalamazoo's OUT plays ahead of its hard-bitten but hopeful second album. Info
Kalamazoo, Michigan band OUT plays powerfully immediate music that nonetheless sounds like it was seasoned in more complex and thorny reaches of post-punk and noise-rock. The band's forthcoming second album, Billie, offers plenty of variety and dynamism. Chafe Hensley and Ike Turner's guitars knot together in sharp, penetrating figures that bridge the force of a good punk riff with something a little more ambivalent and doubtful. Bassist TJ Larmee and drummer Mark Larmee do just as much to vary the sonic palette on Billie, giving "Rashomon" a slap-happy wobble and keeping up a tumultuous churn on "Reach." And yet, it's pretty clear here that long experience has taught these musicians the value of getting to the point. Album opener "M.R.I." lumbers its way to a melodic finale that manages to make the refrain "who's feeling like dirt?" feel affirming, even triumphant.
OUT's lyrics on Billie offer a perspective that's grizzled but not necessarily bitter: "Unreal Cities" reflects on the indignities of touring-band life in middle age—"I'm 42 years old / With 41 records sold / In the last ten years or so / I am told"—but the band tackles that subject with a perverse relish, or at least a knowing sense of humor. "Rashomon" offers a similar perspective on raising a family and the occasional adult-time breaks therein: "Let's take LSD and watch Casino / Turn up Devo loud as it can go / When the kids leave we'll hit the vino / Find out what we stuck around here for." Even when it's hard-bitten, OUT's music seems to come from a place of acceptance and resilience, especially on the album's closing track, "You Sure Are Strong." Headlining this bill is Madison band Hex House, which released its self-titled debut album earlier this summer. The trio definitely brings something a little darker to this show, playing taut and angsty post-hardcore songs that find an impressive amount of space for reflection and atmosphere. —Scott Gordon