Pop/Rock Ruff-Drafts Album
The Dalmatians are "Balsa" on "rap, electronics," "Chicken" on "rap, rad," and "Pongo" on drums and "spelling." On Pop/Rock Ruff-Drafts Album, the Seattle trio cranks out seven ditties of restless abandon for dance parties of the electro-punk variety. Their guy/girl, back-and-forth banter falls somewhere between party rap and your little brother and sister arguing over a Fisher-Price mike in the rec room. Melodies sound like a reprogrammed Atari 2600, and the whole thing is augmented by chipper hand claps and dog barks, and Pongo's infectious, danceable drumbeats keep everything moving. Then there are the lyrics: "This is what it looks like when you're positive/So we'll roll into your town and play a 20-minute set/This what it looks like when you play a fucking show/This is what it looks like when you're happy so you know." Got that? You will.Ruff-Drafts manages to summarily disarm you, then demand a shaking ass and a smile before you know what happened. Live, the Dalmatians are pretty similar, as the enhanced-CD live footage demonstrates. Shorter than the aforementioned 20-minute set, it's a bonus video of a set at the Punkin House. Every song has the crowd unhinged inside of its two-minute span—for good reason. GRANT BRISSEY
Music to Start a Cult To
Throughout ancient history, rabbits have had a myriad of iconographical meanings: fertility, lust, resurrection, immortality, and self-sacrifice. The great Christian theologian Tertullian even compared the persecuted church to hunted hares. It's uncertain if the psychedelic spaghetti-Western gypsies in Gram Rabbit knew all this, but their musical influences are just as varied as the symbolism of the animal that represents them. The band welcomes all kinds of persuasions. On Music to Start a Cult To, Jesika von Rabbit, Todd Rutherford, and Travis Cline are just as likely to hold a séance as they are to ride a mechanical bull. "Dirty Horse" is a hypnotic and almost catatonic male-female sing-along involving Jesus and the devil, with a lazily strummed acoustic guitar bristling beneath a solemn "oh-ohh" chorus. "Kill a Man" serves up a Jesus and Mary Chain downer about nonsensical violence: "I'll kill a man cause his back is sore/I'll kill a man till he's man no more," Rutherford sighs. But the subdued state is snapped in half when von Rabbit gets all sexed up on the bitchin' "Cowboy Up." Sounding like Gwen Stefani piggybacking on White Zombie's rock surges, von Rabbit groans the pole-dancing anthem of the year. "Cowboys and Aliens" vibrates with a heavy bass thump and sublime synth shimmer while von Rabbit is preoccupied "Makin' some wine from the grapes of wrath." Alas, the cult-worshiping devotee's guilt kicks in on the simple and somber "Devil's Playground": "I been treatin' your heaven like a one-night stand," she laments. "I gotta pray more." Silly Rabbit—tricks are for tramps. JEANNE FURY
(In the Red)
The Hunches' decidedly tinny (and, yes, brilliantly named) 2002 debut, Yes. No. Shut It., was a pretty good survey of how to beat the shit out of both rock and punk, and apparently record it from the wrong side of a garage door. Even the most cogent guitar lines were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the inevitable fray waiting in each cut. And as the squealing, whining guitars wind their way into "Where I Am," the opening cut of the band's second full-length, it sounds like we're in for another brawl. But the song's a flagship for both the Hunches' original strengths and the changes throughout Sunrise. Identifiable hooks catch, and this time vocalist Hart Gledill, whose voice usually alternates between sounding something like the Big Bopper on GHB and a root-canal patient without anesthesia, manages to find a medium in which he does something akin to harmonizing (he also handles "hate-flute" duties). And a few minutes in, Sunrise starts to reveal itself as a considerably more ambitious affair, more melodic, the songs more developed but no less raw or unhinged. Chord progressions still U-turn on feedback whines and cymbals still loudly punctuate every change, but if anything there's more fluidity than before: Check the anthemic "Droning Fades On," where Gledhill screams, "Don't throw me down"; the relatively epic "Nosedive"; and the outright pretty closer, "A Flower in the Morning." GRANT BRISSEY
The Hunches play the Crocodile Cafe with the Kills and the Cops at 9 p.m. Sat., Dec. 4. $12.