!!! (chk chk chk) Louden Up Now

[Touch and Go; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: dance punk, disco-funk, neofunk, electro
Others: Out Hud, Midwest Product, Gang of Four, LCD Soundsystem

!!!'s EP release last year was impossible to evaluate, and maybe harder to wholeheartedly recommend to someone because of the disparity in quality between the A and B sides. "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard" was an absolute funk dynamo, whereas "Intensifieder" was just fucking annoying, repeating its dull vocal mantra over and over with minimal musical worth besides. So, this little 18 minute record had simultaneously one of the most exciting and one of the most aggravating songs of the year. The good news (?) is that the A-side appears on their LP Louden Up Now. But, uh, the album clocks in at 53 minutes and 9 of that is "Me and Giuliani" and another 4 is a questionably essential remix of another song; so we're left with 40 minutes of long-running groove based songs. But, I reckon you've seen my score up above there, so you know this is a Bad News Bears of an album, overcoming the odds I've artificially stacked against them to adequately recreate my worries going in to this album.

First off, !!! have figured out that their vocals are mostly obnoxious and remind us that these are not your usual funkmeisters, but rather nerdy white dudes (Kettle, you're SO black). They pop up every now and again to carry songs through transitions and presage them, but otherwise its just imminently danceable grooves. These songs are true successors and disciples of Sly Stone and his cadre, packing little of the soul, but all of the fun. The band has fully realized the value of lush orchestrations, with ample sounds to keep your mind appeased while your toe's tapping, and of the smooth and supple bass line. And someone has mastered a good impression of Will Ferrell doing Harry Carey on "Hello? Is This Thing On?" Most impressively, !!! has proven to be more than a one trick pony, with surprisingly varied themes to their music.

The caveat is that this is primarily dance music, and doesn't make for a super-compelling listen on a full attention basis. But, its certainly hard to hold that against it to a damning extent. Want to have your Suicide Girls shaking their dour asses at your party? Eschew J-Kwon and Usher (but for God's sake, not Petey Pablo) and opt for !!! instead. Hell, it even makes ambiguous attacks on G-Dubs Bush.

1. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Karazzee
2. Pardon My Freedom
3. Dear Can
4. King's Weed
5. Hello? Is This Thing On?
6. Shit Scheisse Merde pt 1
7. Shit Scheisse Merde pt 2
8. Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard (A True Story)
9. Theme from Space Island
10. Shit Scheisse Merde pt 1 (instrumental)