Black City (Burning Heart/Epitaph)
by Morgan Coe
More post-Hives me-too neo-rock, with enough self-importance to light either Division of Laura Lee‘s Black City or Ikara Colt’s tedious “City of Glass.” Between the Division’s crazy song titles (“We’ve Been Planning this for Years,” “The Truth Is Fucked,” and so on – don’t worry, they have nothing to do with the songs themselves) and the Colt’s mock outrage at being banned from the UK charts (not for anything genuinely shocking, mind you; apparently they broke some obscure rule about putting stickers in a record insert), you can tell both bands think they’re Gang of Four, the Pop Group, and the Swell Maps all rolled into one. Unfortunately, their music doesn’t live up to their delusions of rebellion. Although Black City ends with a song called “Wild and Crazy,” Division Of Laura Lee certainly aren’t; they sound like The Strokes on downers, or a more “serious” version of The Hives. The tempos plod along amiably, the guitars twang and jangle, the singer preens and swaggers, and when things get slow, the producer’s always there with a little sample or some weird guitar bit.
Ikara Colt, on the other hand, forgoes slickness in favor of monotony. Where Black City sounds diverse and radio-ready, Chat and Business starts off with a song appropriately titled “One Note.” Although they occasionally slow down and try to sound “moody” or “detached,” the band only sounds comfortable when they’re playing at top speed and the singer cuts loose a bit. Think of The Pixies’ frantic stuff, but without Joey Santiago’s surf guitar or Black Francis’ over-the-top lyrics and delivery. To quote Trainspotting, it’s not bad, but it’s not very good either. In spite of the singer from Division of Laura Lee describing his band as “one of the most important bands in the history of all rock” and the press release that tags Ikara Colt as “un-marketable,” both of these bands are generic product through and through: Calculated, commodified, and utterly disposable.
(2798 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026)