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The Mae-Shi - Terrorbird

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Artist: The Mae-Shi

Album: Terrorbird

Label: 5 Rue Christine

Review date: Aug. 17, 2004

Terrorbird is an apt as hell name for The Mae Shi’s first full-length. The band – four twentysomethings from Los Angeles – transforms when they perform, freaking into a frantic frenzy of breathless squawking and histrionic talking the second their set begins. Everything moves really fast, sweat flies, cymbals topple, they mumble thank yous, and it’s over.

This dizzying blurred effect is, happily, intact on Terrorbird, which The Mae Shi (pronounced, for everyone’s edification, like this: “The May Shee”) recorded themselves, in various bedrooms, living rooms, and cramped apartments over a six-month spell. And it’s a live wire alright, flailing like a felled power line by the freeway, shredding 33 sharp sparks of speedy frequencies, gang dance rants, and post-wave art-raves with cacophonous mastery and confidence.

Whereas last summer’s self-released EP, To Hit Armor Class Zero, showcased The Mae Shi’s more linear and riff-reared post-punk leanings (think the Monorchid meets Ruins meets Men’s Recovery Project maybe), Terrorbird twitches with truer Tourette’s-stricken spasms. Songs like the wordplayful “Virgin’s Diet, The Hand of Wolves” and “Hieronymus Bosch is a Dead Man” rev into racing, wild life – buoyed by buried bass lines as antic as anything Nation of Ulysses ever conceived – but then die on a dime, no deceleration, just a sudden stop and some mangled mainframe bleeps. It’s incredibly inexplicable, and inexplicably incredible.

The record ranges over pretty diverse terrain, too, even stopping for a couple Casio-beats-driven night drives (though vocalist Ezra can’t resist throwing some throat-scraping, slow-motion screams on top) and semi-synth-pop interludes that break the raucous cadence. But it’s the super-kinetic mad dashes of bird cries and string-bending insect-funk guitar that earned the band a spot on the 5RC roster.

By Britt Brown

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