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Thank You - World City

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Artist: Thank You

Album: World City

Label: Wildfire Wildfire

Review date: Oct. 12, 2007

With World City, Baltimore's Thank You emit a solid half-hour of pretty baffling post-No Wave crunch. And I applaud their brevity, because this sort of stuff really is best in short blasts; a full hour would begin to wear thin, and even the thirty minutes here feels a bit padded. Jeffrey McGrath's guitar channels any number of damaged guitar heroes who don't play normal chords, while Michael Bouyoucas (or Byounkas according to their web site, believe whichever you like) alternates between punishing bass and crabby organ. Drummer Elke KW somehow manages to smoothly alternate between Mo Tucker primitivism and a far more multi-limbed approach.

Sometimes anarchic, sometimes tight; sometimes skeletal, sometimes emitting shards of sound in all directions; sometimes rhythmically simplistic, sometimes layering polyrhythms from each of the instruments. Thank You are nothing if not inconsistent – consistently so, really. Spotless changes emerge from seemingly chaotic spasms, amidst pounding drums, chugging guitar and crooked organ. Complex punkers like The Ex are a good reference, but with a more what-the-hell noise-rock attitude and a No Wave heritage.

The trio kick off this brief album with their strongest two songs, a chancey proposition but one that pays off. "Busy Bone" stumbles out of the gate within a minimal rhythmic cage and guitar scree very much indebted to Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, while "Big Joan" moves awkwardly from a steady drumbeat and ominous organ chords under a slow-chugging guitar into fast-paced rolling thunder.

"Help God" marches with a fast rhythm and interlocked instruments through a minefield of blips and squawks, building to a frenzied, sudden end. It follows perhaps the most standard progression of any of the songs here, as demonstrated by "No Hole," which starts with a single repeated rimshot. Suddenly the guitar comes in rhythmically and the drums start filling in with nimble rolls. Two minutes in, the guitar spreads out with ragged, scratchy riffs as the organ joins in, and the whole band tumble down a cliff. Listening is like following a drunk driver and wondering where he's going to crash next.

Three untitled pieces, recorded live and/or on the low-down, are interspersed between other tracks, and end up feeling like filler. It's as if they went unnamed because the band sort of knew they weren't quite as good as the real stuff.

But the real stuff's pretty solid, in an unstable way. In the future, Thank You will face a difficult challenge in harnessing that instability without losing the spontaneity it celebrates. But if they can do it, their next half-hour might satisfy for many times its duration. In the meantime, World City is a welcome introduction.

By Mason Jones

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