Collectively Speaking

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The eager-beaver New Orleans Indie Rock Collectivists launched their second semiannual South By South-fest last night at the Hi-Ho Lounge. Here in the Gambit offices, opinions are split on the NOIRC’s mission. On one hand, indie rock is unquestionably a bastard stepchild in New Orleans and can use all the help it can get. But there’s a fast point of diminishing, and then self-defeating, returns to overly aggressive promotion, especially in a pigeonhole genre defined by its very aloofness. (Hint: You’ve reached it when your slogan is “For all your indie-rock needs!”) The hope is that the music stands on its own, and thankfully, much of the collective’s new sampler CD, a freebie for festival attendees, does. (Never mind the title, Robots Are Mean, which, like Kelly Clarkson and The Osbournes, makes 2002 seem like an awful lot more than seven years ago.) I’m cuckoo for Caddywhompus, last night’s headliner and likely the best thing ever to happen to the collective. Similar aesthetics and shared members left many of the tracks from last year’s sampler, Rock Beats Paper, sounding like the work of a single, albeit schizophrenic, band. Caddywhompus is a different breed altogether. The two noise-makers tore up the stage at the Hi-Ho, drummer Sean Hart carefully watching singer/guitarist Chris Rehm’s hands to ensure he was keeping up with every frenzied tempo change; there was no actual listening to be done in the small venue, not with the decibels Hart and Rehm were laying down. But behind the amplified haze were outlines of the ear-pleasing pop strains, voiced in Rehm’s steep timbre, that make Caddywhompus’ songs so instantly appealing. Tonight at One Eyed Jacks, it’s Silent Cinema’s chance to show off its new, growling sound, done to a turn on January's fine LP, Fins and Feathers. And on Sunday at the Howlin’ Wolf awaits a second waltz with Shreveport’s charming Peekers, whose born-for-the-stage singer, Brittney Maddox, single-handedly stole Dr. Dog’s packed-house OEJ show last month. No slogans or robot slandering necessary.

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