Hits: The 90 Day Men

The 90 Day Men

The 90 Day Men

Temporary Residence Records

From Chicago, Illinois, a town renowned for constantly

redefining what’s hip in the American underground soundscape, comes The 90 Day Men. This trio barges out of the Midwest with some seriously hard-jazz-inspired math-punk noise on their self-titled five-song debut. From the first notes of “My Trip to Venus,” The 90 Day Men build on the work of such great bands as The Minutemen, Drive Like Jehu, and Hoover-making for music that is always interesting but never easy-listening.

Vocalist Brian Case spits, snarls, and croons his way through a maze of bittersweet wordplays (à la Jack Kerouac at his most cocky) while deftly crafting angular and percussive rhythms on guitar. The ever-energized Rob Lowe bombs the bass with an amazing attack- bombastic flair not heard since Doug E. Bird’s inspired playing in the late-great Beefeater. Rob also shouts all over this record in barely intelligible phrases, playing a crazed game of call and response with guitarist Brian. Their vocal interplay is funny and done in such an interesting way that it adds a refreshing dimension to a genre of music usually too hell-bent on maintaining a menacing and austere pose.

Rounding out the three-piece is drummer Casey Key. His contribution to the songs sits a bit too far back in the mix for my taste but nonetheless, once the ears zero in on what he’s layin’ down, you can quickly surmise where the fuel for this band’s ass-whuppin’ style and innovation comes from. If you like weird time signatures and unconventional beat, Mr. Key is the man! He plays loose, fast, and just spastically enough to allow his uninhibited pals up front to do their thing.

This record makes me nostalgic for a time when punk was

experimental, noisy, and carried itself with a cool, albeit awkward

sassiness. With people like The 90 Day Men around, there’s joy in the

present and hope for punk’s future.-Arlie Carstens