Glorious Noise

Blood on the Wall make a joyful indie-rock mess.

Yeah, I thought they sounded an awful lot like the Pixies and Sonic Youth, too, but when the last track from Blood on the Wall's Awesomer was over and iTunes rolled me into a Bongwater song ("Ride My Seesaw," a cover, actually, off of 1988's Double Bummer), I didn't feel a thing. Indeed, brother-sister team Courtney and Brad Shanks make the drunkenly poetic, joyful fucking noise of late-'80s indie rock, and drummer Miggy Littleton brings the big boom. But as much as Courtney sounds like one of the Kims, she sounds like Bongwater's Anne Magnuson, who always sounded to me like she was sing-talking her way through a pretty severe '60s girl-group crush.

I said as much to Brad when I reached him, via cell phone, somewhere outside of Denver. No one in their right mind objects to being called the latest scion of the American underground; still, Brad got a quick kick out of being compared to Kramer and company instead, and then we dispensed with the paralleling altogether. The deal with this Brooklyn band is pretty simple: They're just exercising their right to lionize the unsightly, to find a way to feel good about everything being so damn bad.

Take, for instance, "You Are a Mess." Courtney gives her baby brother the mike on this one, and it's an ass shaker. Littleton punches thick, deep holes in blue skies, the guitars chug cheap beer, and Brad wraps his whinelike warble over "Oh, what a mess you got yourself in" like "mess" equates with "bubble bath in a four star hotel." Likewise the churning, tumbling, not-even-two-minutes-long track "Heat From the Day," wherein Courtney's far sexier whine admits, "When I first saw you/I knew you were born to lose." Sure beats a line like "You had me at hello."

Awesomer is the second release by the trio, who have been together since 2000; like the self-titled first one, it's compact, tightly bundled, and amicably agitative. Having just completed a four-week tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, BotW are now continuing their barnstorm with Social Registry labelmates Psychic Ills and are enjoying the every-city instant party.

"I'm just trying to show my pimples off," said Brad. You should go see them.

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