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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Professor Murder

Professor Murder is my favorite new band. The Brooklyn-based four piece makes highly energetic, danceable indie-rock - music to party to. They are rhythm-centered, featuring a spotlight on percussion (much cowbell, oh yes), two bass-players, keyboard, and no guitarist. One of their bassists also plays a mean melodica. Good points of reference are !!! (kind of) or even the classic post-punk band The Fire Engines. Though they describe their music as "happy hardcore" - not a totally inappropriate label for the music if you can forget about what is usually meant by "happy hardcore" - I'd call it post-punk drenched in dub, infused with funk and a little hip hop.

The dub influence, widely felt in the original post-punk movement, has gone largely unacknowledged in the post-punk revival of late. Especially here in the Bay Area, the things that "reggae" has come to signify (hippies in a dorm room playing those same 14 songs from Bob Marley's "Legend" over and over, for example) are so well established that most indie-rock hipsters I've met wouldn't touch anything Jamaican with a ten-foot pole (or maybe I'm just bitter about the cold reception my record collection has received since I moved to hipster-infested West Oakland). This is why I'm excited to find a band like Professor Murder that embraces it.

It's not just melodica playing reminiscent of Augustus Pablo, or the emphasis on songs anchored by the bass and drums. "The Mountain", the third track on "Professor Murder Rides The Subway", actually lifts its lyrics from a dancehall tune - Red Rat's "Tight Up Skirt":
Hey you girl inna di tight up skirt
Ya mek mi head swell til mi blood vessel burst
Hey you girl inna di tight up shorts
Ya speed up ten more beats to mi heart
Hey you girl inna di tight up blouse
Everytime ya pass mi, ya get mi aroused
Hey you girl inna di jeans
Look pun dat gal deh
See what mi mean
They wisely do away with the patois for their repurposed lyrical quotation, and it works quite well in the new context. After all, the words evoke a sentiment easily applicable to any scene. You can hear a live version of "The Mountain" here, though the studio version on the EP sounds better.

For two cuts from "Professor Murder Rides The Subway", head over to this Pitchfork review and grab "Champion" and "Free Stress Test" at the bottom of the page. This EP is really solid, five (well four, one track is a brief acapella throwaway that works nicely as a bridge) rumbling, chugging, ass-shaking songs, well produced but still with a ton of dirt (much like my favorite dub). It came out last July, but in my defense I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of Brooklyn's indie-rock scene. There's also a 2004 recording of theirs going around (a demo?) from before they shed their guitarist which is more straight-ahead punk. Check out "Chinese Checkers". This track is rather unlike the music on "...Rides The Subway". But it still kicks my ass and makes me want to dance like a violent fool.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Pool or Pond said...

Ah yes, Professor Murder. Good stuff. Good stuff. Trying to send a message your way, but comments seem to be the only method available. Found you via BlackMagicPlastic blog roll.

Check out Jordan Rain of Bellingham, WA (ex Behead The Prophet, Noggin, Reeks & The Wrecks). I have just released his solo album "Street Lights," which showcases his r&b/reggae/doo-wop influences while pulling from his hardcore/punk/indie roots. All live instruments recorded through pinhole mic of iBook.

www.poolorpond.net/jordanrain.html

Later. Thanks. John

1:55 AM  

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