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These Women Are Uncategorizable

October 8th, 2010

Women – Mercury Lounge – October 8, 2010

Women - Mercury Lounge - October 8, 2010
Someone asked me after DD/MM/YYYY’s set of controlled chaos if I knew what Women sounded like and I had a hard time answering. Listening to their early set at Mercury Lounge last night, there were recognizable psychedelic elements of a West Coast, laid-back, garage sound similar to the Fresh & Onlys’ ’60s haze of echo. That sound gets combined with intricate melodies that follow an unnatural internal rhythm like the best of Abe Vigoda or Deerhoof. So….

Fellow Canadian and Sub Pop artist, Chad Vangaalen, produced Women’s latest album, Public Strain. It’s a combination of recording techniques and subtle pop melodies constructed from what sounds like dissonant fragments of an overall tune with a heavy layer of reverb patina, a slow buildup of tight, metallic echo and harmonies from both Patrick Flegel and Chris Reimer on guitar. They play off each other’s particular take on a core melody, turning a simple, slowly building wall into intricate patterns that fight to work together against layers of surf vocal.

I’m sure that has something to do with the dynamic between brothers Pat and (bassist) Mike Flegel, who contribute equally strange little interludes of disconnected sounds in almost experimental ways. As much as they sweat to innovate, they aren’t weighed down by one particular era, and they make the most of exploring their own tracks live. They didn’t help unravel any of their mystery in between songs, choosing instead to have the dueling delayed guitars extend their reach long past the end of a song, with drummer Michael Wallace stepping out from behind the kit to play another guitar with a cello bow. As usual, it’s better left to not try to categorize a band like this, which is too nimble and too talented to stick with anything that can be held against them later. So to answer that guy’s question: I still have no idea. —Jason Dean

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com