Laughing Hyenas | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Laughing Hyenas 

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This ten-year-old Ann Arbor quartet's biggest shortcoming has been its incessant self-ghettoization. While their music is clearly an extension of the proud Detroit rock lineage--MC5, Stooges--their insistence that they're a modern blues band is just plain dopey. Infighting and drug problems have laced the band's history, but that's hardly unique. Their somewhat offensive claims of affinity with down-and-out southern bluesmen aside, their music packs a significant wallop. Although the music on their earliest recordings unrelentingly bludgeons the listener with brutality, within John Brannon's white-noise ranting resides an undeniable expressiveness. Subsequent recordings capture a striking evolution--he could almost be viewed as a hard-rock soul singer demonstrating remarkable finesse. Complemented by the fat, lacerating guitar of Larissa Strickland, the band has transplanted a heavy Stooge-oid rattle into a vaguely bluesy setting. The band's new album, Hard Times (Touch & Go), is their most conventional release; Brannon leavens his Iggy Pop-isms with tricks swiped straight from Mick Jagger. While it's also their least inspired effort it does contain some transcendent moments, and they've always excelled live, where pure emotion and chaos are better communicated. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Ewolf.

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