Generalissimo -- WESTERN MEDICINE [Arbeit Macht Dinge]

They use the same lineup format favored by the Band of Susans (three guitars, bass, and drums) but sound more like Breaking Circus -- now that's an Oakland band, all right. California's funkiest city (touched by the hand o' Sun Ra, whose SPACE IS THE PLACE film was shot partially in Oakland) is currently home to a number of bands mixing industrial, metal, punk, pop, and more in weird and interesting ways. Including former members of Angel Hair, Boyjazz, and Stay Gold Pony Boy, the quintet's sound is built around catchy hooks and a rhythm section that encompasses both Devo's quirky motion and Killing Joke's intensity; catchiness abounds, and the band's energy recalls the golden days of hardcore and punk. The sound is something far stranger, even when it's super-catchy. At times they sound like a futuristic rockabilly band. What sets them apart from a lot of clever indie bands is their enormous energy and impressive talent for catchy riffs. Tracks like "Pale Mercy," "Winter Along the Sava," and "Helicopter" abound with pop hooks imbedded in performances more rooted in punk's primal fury. All the material is presented with plenty of energy and chops, and while there are moments that recall other bands (especially Melvins, Devo, and Dead Kennedys), the totality of their approach is reasonably fresh and certainly engaging. They also get lots of bonus points for their totally devolved, PIL by way of Gary Numan deconstruction of the Ramones classic "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World." You should also visit their website, which is unspeakably cool. The attention to detail they lavished on the website is every bit as present on their album. (Which is available in 12" vinyl, by the way.)

RKF