Icy Demons 

Miami Ice

In this era of eclectic indie-rock side projects, Icy Demons is one of the zaniest ... if their latest set Miami Ice (tee hee) is anything to go by. More of a collective of Chicago and Philadelphia players than a band per se, these Demons — including Chris Powell (aka Pow Pow), Griffin Rodriguez (aka Blue Hawaii), Jeff Parker (from Tortoise), Josh Abrams (The Sea and Cake), etc. — take assorted styles, put 'em in an ironic blender, and hit "puree."

"Summer Samba" is a tip-o'-the-hat to the sultry samba sound as played by a lo-fi prog-rock band. The prog influence extends to "1850"; with its droll, oddly cadenced singing and lyrics, bittersweet tunefulness, and playful dissonance, the track recalls the best (and less commercial) variants of early/mid-1970s UK prog-rock such as Hatfield and the North and Henry Cow. "Centurion" and "Jantar Mantar" harness the sleek, pulsing synth-pop of the early '80s and combine it with the pensive, diaphanous vocal harmonies recalling early-'70s sweet soul (especially and not coincidentally the Philly sound). Imagine Kraftwerk or Thomas Dolby producing an O'Jays ("Backstabbers") single.

While all this might imply Miami Ice is esoteric or arty, it's these Demons' happy-go-lucky approach and sense of economy (nine songs in 32 minutes; no excess, wretched or otherwise, here) that makes this set an imaginative and entertaining — rather than ponderous — listen. Ice is the audio equivalent of getting lost in a musical hall of trick mirrors. (Obey Your Brain)

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