Touch & Go

BLONDE REDHEAD - Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons LP

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New York City's Blonde Redhead developed a reputation as Sonic Youth imitators, because their sound originally depended on the same discordant guitar points and sexless machinelike rhythms. But over the course of five albums, they've grown out of that heady shadow. Incorporating sinister keyboards, conventional melodic guitar lines, and a stronger grasp of songwriting ("Melody of Certain Three," among others, is hummable), Blonde Redhead is emerging from the underground rock world with a sound that mixes dissonant alt-rock ("For the Damaged") with space-age pop grace ("Ballad of Lemons") and orchestral ambitions ("Loved Despite Great Faults"). Mixed louder than the usual indie release, the atmospheric lead vocals of Kazu Makino bring the imagistic lyrics to the fore. "Hated Because of Great Qualities" builds into a teetering seesaw of notes while Makino admits, "It never meant a thing. So be it," with Godardian detachment. Definitely one of the more noteworthy bands that have slowly been growing into a diverse and formidable act. --Rob O'Connor