Erase Errata, 'At Crystal Palace' (Troubleman Unlimited)

8
At Crystal Palace
Critical Mass
Label: Troubleman Unlimited

by Joe Gross

As no-wave patron saint Lydia Lunch said of her hellacious late-'70s outfit Teenage Jesus and the Jerks: "I just wanted to destroy rock'n'roll, but who doesn't?" Too bad, Lyd; no wave was destined to become another cranky rock subgenre -- which doesn't mean it still can't sound totally badass. Ever since Link Wray poked a few holes in his amp's speaker cone and discovered distortion, noise has been a route to liberation, especially in the hands of bands who know how to whip it into shape, go forward, and move ahead.

San Francisco's Erase Errata took to no wave like it was their birthright. While a recent remix EP, Dancing Machine, meshed their clamor with way-out machine funk, At Crystal Palace returns to the chaotic territory the band charted on their 2001 debut, Other Animals. Though the quartet steers clear of goof-off noodling, they clearly prize improvisation and spontaneity; the songs always sound like they were written this morning, refined over lunch, and recorded in time for happy hour.Palace rockets by, featuring 13 blurts about the hassles of commuting ("Driving Test"), pretending you're a bird of prey ("Owls"), and other fantasies of everyday power, all narrated in a bracingly ordinary, I'd-rather-be-blogging tone by singer/grrrl-geek superstar Jenny Hoyston.

Drummer Bianca Sparta never met a rhythm she didn't get bored with and pull apart like a broken toy, but bassist Ellie Ericksonis all pulse and glue. Guitarist Sara Jaffe's riffs flicker and spark, lead and rhythm melting into the same urge. In Erase Errata's hands, no wave isn't a cul-de-sac but a doorway. Hayston says it best on "The White Horse Is Bucking...": "And picture yourself among the beautiful / And picture yourself alive, alive, alive, alive."

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