Nerves | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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By now we all know what heroin sounds like. But judging from the frantic set I caught at the Fireside a few weeks ago, if this local trio has a drug of choice it must be speed. On their debut LP, Nerves (Thrill Jockey), recorded by Mark Schwarz, guitarist Rob Datum, bassist Seth Skundrick, and drummer Elliot Dicks tear through 13 wiry, bluesy rave-ups mostly live, with few overdubs. Front man Datum mixes jackhammer chords and clean, string-bending hooks, singing like he's being flayed alive and even howling in unison with a lick on "Blackbearded Woman." Fans of Iggy Pop and Radio Birdman, the Nerves take inspiration from the original ultra-high-end mix of Iggy and the Stooges' Raw Power, but the songs also touch on the maximum R & B of the Who and the Yardbirds circa 1965. "Here Comes Love," with its bouncing shuffle beat and hysterical call-and-response vocals, sounds like the bastard son of "Train Kept a Rollin'," and the cool, descending guitar riff on "Show Your Love" harks back to the Yardbirds' big pop sellout, "For Your Love." On the record, though it's only 28 minutes long, the relentless repetitiveness of the riffs does start to wear, but onstage Dicks, who flails like a madman, and Skundrick, who cryptically insults random members of the audience, strike enough sparks to keep a room on edge all the way through. Friday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-525-6620. J.R. JONES

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Ms. Joy.

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