Wetdog 

Frauhaus!

Everything old is new again, part eleven: The all-female UK trio Wetdog stirs up memories of an "arty" variant of late-1970s punk rock, those coed and all-women bands that applied overtly intellectual, feminist, and experimental concepts to stripped-down, DIY rock 'n' roll. Bands such as Y Pants (in NYC) and the Raincoats (UK) played dissonant songs that were one part girl group tunefulness, one part defiant humor, and one part boldly angular and/or skewed musicality. Wetdog proudly carries on in its anti-tradition and, also like them, rejects any overt "rock" moves. The drumming is so stiff as to make Tommy Ramone sound like Tony Williams, and there are no power chords, nifty guitar solos, no polish of any kind. Frauhaus! brims with ragged harmonies, droll 'n' surly attitude ("Fist Face"), alternately forlorn and impudent singing, and charmingly basic playing facility ("Ethiopia"). Yet there's nothing retro about Frauhaus — Wetdog evokes the approach and spirit of its rebellious antecedents without mimicking them. But at the same time, don't contract the notion this set is a strident or pretentious clatter-and-shriek fest. "Round Vox" features some genuinely pretty, pensive-sounding vocal harmonies along with a sinewy, snarling bass line, "Lower Leg" has a maddeningly magnetic melodic hook, and the spooky, Syd Barrett-like "New Year" is a surreal, let's-wind-down closer. The main downside to Frauhaus! is its barely-a-half-hour length (jeez), but for fans of tuneful noise, quality trumps quantity every time. A band to watch. (Angular Recording Corp.)

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