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GoGoGo Airheart

By: Todd Goldstein

As dance-punk wears out its welcome — and it’s wearing out pretty quickly — it gets harder for bands to transcend the confines of a slowly constricting genre. The successful ones learn to draw from disparate influences, loosen up a bit, shelving their copies of Gang of Four’s Entertainment! in favor of jazz, reggae, and ambient/electronic albums. Enter GoGoGo Airheart, a spunky San Diego quartet whose new Rats! Sing! Sing! has the casual, tossed-off feel of a hastily-recorded basement jam session, and, thankfully, enough art-school ambition to add a tinge of messy grace.

Though the requisite angular guitars and driving, danceable rhythms prevail, GoGoGo Airheart is more focused on production and mood over complex polyrhythms or (gasp) songwriting. Rats! Sing! Sing! sounds like it’s being pumped through a set of blown-out speakers on the back of someone’s pickup at a sweaty summer BBQ. Dusty, hazy ambience keeps the guitar-stabs and machine gun drums at an intriguing distance, with ghostly piano and synth bits popping up to expand the size of that imaginary basement. Strangely, when GoGoGo Airheart write real “songs,” their material’s the weakest. The 15-track album’s looseness hinges on the moments when the band seems about to fall apart, so lost in a groove (and they do groove — the rhythm section has a shambling momentum that’s damn infectious) that it all becomes sounds. Singer/guitarist Mike Vermillion’s clearly more interested in shouting, sneering, hollering, and yelping than “singing” in the accepted sense, and the band follows suit with their respective instruments.

“So Good” is a clear single, squishing a fuzzed out Stooges riff into a delirious two minute pop song. But the band balances such stock fare (albeit exhilarating stock fare) with standout “Turn Out the Lights,” a bizarre dub reggae pop-experiment that crystallizes the band’s seemingly incompatible influences. Triple-delayed, shuddering vocals from guitarist/singer Mike Vermillion sit uncomfortably beside echoing organ and squelchy bass. It all sounds like dub-master King Tubby played by the Walkmen, shifting around like a drunk-for-the-first-time teenager. It’s awkward and woozy, defiantly sloppy and playful: everything GoGoGo Airheart does best.

Catch GoGoGo Airheart on tour with post-punky loverboys the Joggers:

10/30, Austin, TX (Emo’s) 11/2, Tallahassee, FL (FSU Club Downunder)11/3, Gainesville, FL (Common Grounds)11/6, Chapel Hill, NC (Wetlands Dance Hall)11/8, New York, NY (Knitting Factory)11/10, Allston, MA (Great Scott)11/16, Lansing, MI (Mac’s Bar)11/17, Chicago, IL (Schuba’s Tavern)11/19, Minneapolis, MN (7th Street Entry)11/20, Omaha, NB (O’Leavers Pub)11/21, Lawrence, KS (The Replay Lounge)11/22, Denver, CO (The Larimer Lounge)11/23, Salt Lake City, UT (Kilby Court)

GoGoGo Airheart official site