The Jesus and Mary Chain | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Jesus and Mary Chain 

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The singles that made this English band the talk of Anglos and Anglophiles everywhere back in '85 were a unique brand of punk schlock. They were framed by a resonant, pulsating bass hum at one end of the sonic spectrum and a shrill, dissonant layer of guitar feedback at the other; together, these effects combined for a tone so big and echoing it made the songs sound like they were recorded in Howe's Caverns. However, at the heart of these echo chamber recordings there were some pretty simple (and simply pretty) melodies as unadorned by rhythmic or vocal flourishes as anything by the Ramones or the Ronettes. In fact, the Ramones and the Ronettes are this band's most direct forefathers (mothers): the J&MC's dramatic, cataclysmic sound may fool you, but they have much more in common with Phil Spector's tradition than with that of the Sex Pistols (Husker Du comparisons, therefore, don't go very far). The main difference between them and other Spector inheritors like the more straightforward Ramones and the more earthy Ronettes is that the J&MC interpret Phil Spector's romantic "wall of sound" legacy in the most bleak, grandiose, and bohemian fashion, thereby ruining its ironies and tensions, subtle or otherwise. In other words, like I said, they schlock it up big time. On record, this schlock is a genuine innovation and a genuine thrill, but it's potentially a bit of a drag live. It's worth a shot, however, because the band is still really neat. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 549-0203.

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