Muffs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Muffs 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

MUFFS

Kim Shattuck plays guitar like Johnny Ramone and yowls like there's coarse twine wrapped round her larynx. But over the course of four albums by her band the Muffs, her songwriting contributions have sounded increasingly more inspired by AM radio than by her LA punk roots (she played bass in the all-female garage-punk combo the Pandoras). Alert Today Alive Tomorrow, released in June, is the Muffs' first indie album--finished with Warner Brothers, they're now on the San Francisco label Honest Don's. It's also their least threatening-sounding album to date; a few of the songs don't even use distortion. Shattuck's at her best when she's sneering at dim-witted punks, hollering on pitch, and tearing through riffs that sound a lot simpler than they really are: why stick to three chords when you can play eighteen? (And she never passes up a chance to sneak in a Beatles allusion: "Clown," for instance, cops backing vocals from "You Won't See Me.") Her lyrical stance is pretty narrow--love hurts, you suck, piss off--but her voice is usually secondary to her snarling guitar in the mix, and anyway the words get pulled into more interesting shapes by her Ramonesian whoa-a-oh-isms. The new, softer material shouldn't be too detrimental to the live act: onstage the Muffs clearly relish their should've-been-hits from older releases ("Big Mouth," "Lucky Guy," "I'm a Dick"), and though drummer Roy McDonald and longtime bassist Ronnie Barnett often fade into the background, Shattuck's got enough charisma to go around. Saturday, 9:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. DOUGLAS WOLK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Henry Diltz.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Douglas Wolk

  • Good-Bye, "Lazy Sunday"

    The big boys have started paying attention to YouTube and Google Video. But not all copyright violations are created equal.
    • Mar 23, 2006
  • The End of the 99-Cent Download?

    Why the major labels are squeezing online retailers to raise the price of digital music.
    • Jan 19, 2006
  • Digital Rights Mismanagement

    Sony BMG's most recent attempt to lock down content only pushes smart listeners towards illegal downloading.
    • Dec 1, 2005
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
October 25
Performing Arts
July 04

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories