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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Should Hear: Rank/Xerox Do Post-Punk Right

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 7:33 AM

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Sometimes it feels like "post-punk" has become a dirty descriptor. More often than not, if a band cites its influences as pre-Joy Division Warsaw or the Fall, expect to see some bad haircuts and hear a clichéd hodgepodge of post-punk darkwave and cheesy modern dance music that lacks heart, originality, or any resemblance to punk music. But Rank/Xerox has managed to conjure up an organic sound that draws from such dark predecessors as Sad Lovers & Giants and aggressive, speedy punk in the vain of the Middle Class, while adding something new and scintillating to the equation.

The backbone of the band is drummer Jon Shade. Oddly enough, Shade only learned the drums less than a year ago when Rank/Xerox first formed. "I listened to a lot of Liliput, Hans-A-Plast, and Grass Widow when I was first learning drums. Diane from Brilliant Colors and myself learned beats from Bossa Nova videos on YouTube," says Shade, whose tight, brisk style gives momentum and a sense of urgency to the Rank/Xerox sound. Shade and Aussie expat David West drive the band through its sonic foray, while singer Kevin McCarthy spouts sometimes cruel, always caustic musings in a cool tone. The second song on the group's Wizard Mountain split tape with Grass Widow, "Stairs," begins harshly with McCarthy stating, "Every day I use you...for my own ends." It's as though he has surrendered to the toxic parasitism of human relationships, relating this simply and matter of factly to his audience.

After a tour of Eastern Europe last fall with Bay Area comrades Nodzzz and a brief tour with Grass Widow, Rank/Xerox is back in the Bay Area with a handful of upcoming local shows and a new 7" on Shade's label Mongo Bongo Top Ten Hits. The band will also be recording an LP in March, and will be featured on the upcoming Maximum Rock N Roll Bay Area compilation titled Noise Ordinance.

Rank/Xerox plays tonight with Airfix Kits and La Corde at the Knockout (9:30 p.m., free)

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Emily Rose Epstein

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