Despite the title--New Animal--the recent second album by these local garage-punk heroes isn't a grand departure from the trebly, spastic, one-speed-fits-all attack of their 1998 debut. But under producer Jack Endino, they have throttled back a little to include the occasional keyboard color (courtesy of Thrill Jockey labelmate the Lonesome Organist) or brutal slide-guitar shriek, take a few chances with dynamics (the slow build of the shattering "Die Tonight," the utter restraint of the queasy ballad "Looking Into Fire"), and reveal influences beyond the Seeds and the Stooges (I hear a lift from Love's "Little Red Book" on "Red Night" and the primal thud of the Sonics on "Own Religion"). Still, if their precision and range have increased over the past three years, the live show still lives or dies by the Iggy standard: raw power. On a good night, drummer Elliot Dicks flails at his kit as if in the throes of a grand mal seizure, bassist Seth Skundrick struts ominously at the audience, half Chicago cop, half Tom of Finland model, and guitarist Rob Datum screams and whimpers like a chimp running across a hot griddle--though come to think of it, that's what they're like on a bad night too. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Toliver.