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The Mae-Shi - Go Zbra / Heartbeeps

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Artist: The Mae-Shi

Album: Go Zbra / Heartbeeps

Label: Deleted Art / 5RC

Review date: Aug. 11, 2005

Mae Shi lead screamer Ezra Buchla literally sounds like a pubescent male whose parents have just grounded him right before the middle-school dance. His voice sounds about halfway between a boy’s and a man’s, and his wonderfully intemperate yelling seems like it’s more about the visceral act of screaming than what ultimately comes out. A kid throwing a tantrum doesn’t think about the cleaning up he’ll have to do later.

The Mae Shi in general is also like a teen with a grudge. The band’s bread and butter is high-energy, jagged indie-rock, with the guitar and bass working against each other, and the drums left to decide which of the two paths to follow. The clearest antecedent for the Mae Shi’s call-and-unresponsive is the Monorchid’s brilliant final album Who Put Out the Fire?, where the guitars and bass combined to form a single line whose constituent parts were only unusual in the way they started and ended. The Mae Shi works the same way – the odd entrances and exits of single parts make the resulting über-riffs nastier and more disorienting than they’d otherwise have any right to be.

Unlike the Monorchid, though, the Mae Shi isn’t at all consistent from song to song – in between the loud, cathartic tracks, there are lots of little synth bleeps and bits of comparatively tame electronic noise. At first glance, it’s as if the Mae Shi is abandoning any attempt at editing, just throwing a fit and letting the chips fall where they may. Go Zbra / Heartbeeps (the Mae Shi have apparently released the same EP on two different labels with two different titles) is similar in this regard to the band’s debut full-length Terrorbird. But their approach works better on the EP, which is actually edited more cleverly, with the loud and quiet parts following one another in surprising ways even though the album as a whole sounds just as whimsical and spontaneous as the band's previous work.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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