Quix*o*tic | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Quix*o*tic 

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Since leaving Autoclave--the short-lived but excellent DC art-pop quartet that also gave the world Mary Timony--in 1991, guitarist Christina Billotte has favored music that's rougher and creepier. She made two albums of disheveled but catchy punk rock streaked with horror-flick imagery with Slant 6; her current group is Quix*o*tic, a trio with her sister Mira on drums and Mick Barr--also of the prog-punk band Orthrelm--on bass, and their music is even darker and less polished. The group's new album, Mortal Mirror (Kill Rock Stars), picks up where its self-released debut, Night for Day, left off, inconsistently and sometimes bizarrely mixing raw garage rock, palsied soul, surf licks, and even work songs. Between Christina's lean single-note lines and Mira's tepid drumming Quix*o*tic can come off as painfully amateurish, but then there's no wasted energy either. On songs like "Open Up the Walls" and "The Breeze," where the guitar parts sound like interpolations of incidental music from The Addams Family, Mira's robotic shuffles and rolling tom lines come off as purposeful, and Barr's nimble if unfussy lines more often than not succeed in holding the pieces together. The sisters almost methodically suck the soul out of covers like Billy Stewart's "Sitting in the Park" and the Aaron Neville classic "Tell It Like It Is," but their delicate and generally true original melodies create nice tension with the minimalist instrumentation. And perversely their own "Anonymous Face" (except for a drum break by Christina, manning the kit while Mira sings, that brings to mind Ed Begley in Spinal Tap) sounds like a lost Oscar Brown gem. Friday, August 16, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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