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  Listen Up! 5/7/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, May 7

Wire, “Pink Flag,” EMI Records. Twenty-five years later, this record is still startling, perhaps even more so. Inspired by punk rock, but not really of it, these guys set out to reinvent rock music in their own image. That this image turned out to be a dead end was irrelevant. It was only dead in the sense that it couldn’t be expanded upon or improved upon; the only band to come along in all these years that tried was Elastica, and they just pretty much aped the style completely. Crazy-quilt guitar riffs, bass lines bopping at will, and straight-forward drumming with vocals shouting in some sort of sing-songy approach until they collided with the other guys singing backup. And then there are the weird bits. Only three out of 23 songs (including two bonus cuts) clock in at more than two and a half minutes; most are much shorter. All are gonna get your leg moving at unfathomable speeds as you tap your feet.

Hot Hot Heat, “Make Up the Breakdown,” Sub Pop Records. Yeah, they use the first couple of XTC albums as a template, but they don’t just stop there. (Heck, I swear I heard a keyboard run that reminded me of Kansas “Point of No Return” at one point.) I like them. They’re quirky like XTC, and they have hooks like XTC, but they have their own personality working. I think I want to play this a few times to see what I think.

--Steve Pick

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