!!! (chk chk chk)’s Strange Weather, Isn’t It?

!!! (chk chk chk)’s Strange Weather, Isn’t It?

by terri sapp

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Strange Weather Isn't It album cover

click photo for band website

One of my favorite bands, !!! (chk chk chk) made us all happy in the Fall of 2010 when they released their latest album called  Strange Weather, Isn’t It? just in time for my birthday!! !  Since their debut self-titled studio album in 2001, !!! has produced nothing but quality work.  After the 2007 release of the awesome Myth Takes record, I was not surprised to hear that their sound just keeps getting tighter and tighter!  It is hard to imagine an album that can stand up next to Myth Takes, because it is such a fantastic collection of songs, but Strange Weather, Isn’t It? holds its own in a major way.  I knew I loved this new release within the first few measures.

In true !!! form,  Mario Andreoni (guitar), Dan Gorman (horns/percussion/keys), Nic Offer (vocals), Tyler Pope (bass/various electronic devices), and Allan Wilson (horns/percussion/keys) , Shannon Funchess (vocals), Sean McGahan (various electronic devices/sound manipulation), Paul Quattrone and Jerry Fuchs (drums) kick off the new album with a lively, bouncing beat in “AM/FM.”  There are very few bands out right now that can control my body movement with their music, and !!! never fails me.  My booty loves their tunes…  The musicianship these young fellas display is beyond my comprehension sometimes.  The webs they weave with the different facets of the band always make for repeat listening between my office, car, and iPod, and it never gets old!! 

“Most Certain Sure” is one of my absolute favorite tracks on this album.  It seems to embody everything I love about the commonly referred to as ‘dance-punk’ band, !!!.  Between the sultry vocals by the ever sexy singer Nic Offer, the awesome lyrics, and multi-layered music, there is no going wrong here.  “Alright, guess I just had to learn what everybody’s always knoooown…And it’s a good thing, it’s a good thiiiiiiiiiing!”  “Most Certain Sure” makes me feel “strangely free!”  The seamless transition into “Wannagain Wannagain” is enough to keep any party going without even having to change the CD.  Shannon Funchess’s backing vocals compliment Offer’s and fit right in with Tyler Pope’s manipulation of his various electronic devices.  When we saw them play in Athens, GA at the 40 Watt in 2007, Tyler blew me away the way he transitioned from playing his guitar (that night) to the many devices he was working with to bring the sounds we are used to hearing on their records to the stage.  AWESOME!

On a funkier note, “Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass,” as you could imagine showcases the bass line.  The guitar riff is very memorable as well.  !!! is just an all around jammin’ party pumpin’ band!  I always visualize Offer’s cute moves and his seriously silly dances in my head when I hear songs like this one.  Just when I thought the next song was going to be a slower more melodic type of number, “Steady As A Sidewalk Cracks” busts out with a very upbeat and catchy chorus.  I know I go on and on about Nic Offer, but I am in love with his voice and singing style.  “Steady as a sidewalk’s crack, and let the grass grow through it.  But don’t you ever look back.  You’ve got to trust the music.”  That’s what I am talking about!  I am also always a sucker for horns, and “Steady” is full of them. 

“Hollow” has a more industrial-esque sound with a heavier drum focus and more rhythmic vocals.  The guitar is harder, too, and accompanies the sound manipulation that !!! has come to be known for.  “Jump Back” starts out with a sound reminiscent of a dance remix of a very playful Bauhaus song.  I absolutely love it.  Strange Weather, Isn’t It? serves it up song after song.  I have to say that if you do not have this album or any !!!, make it happen!  If you don’t watch it, “Jump Back” will turn into “Even Judas Gave Jesus A Kiss” and you won’t even realize it!  They seem to just flow.  “Judas” is total disco !!!  “I don’t wish that you were here now.  I don’t want those old times back.  I never wish that somehow we could change it back, ‘cause it’s all been tainted black!…I suppose that Judas had his reasons…and it all worked out the best.”  Words to dance to!  Lastly, like the grand finale, is “Hammer,” which was composed by !!! and Jerry Fuchs.  Since the time that we saw !!! before this album was released, with Jerry Fuchs on the drums, the Marietta native (Cobb County in tha house!) and former UGA student, was killed in Brooklyn in a very tragic freak accident involving a broken elevator and tremendous back luck.  What a terrible loss for !!! and music in general.  His drumming style and energy are captured forever in “Hammer.”  And, I agree with Offer when he repeats “Don’t Stop!!!” for most of the song!  Since I first learned of Fuchs early on in my love for !!!, I always put him in a category with the greats in the drummer world!  He has the chops to stand up with the likes of John Bonham or Chad Sexton, and the creativity to play next to another of my favorites Matt Chamberlain any day! 

For more information on !!! (chk chk chk), and to see if you could luck out and catch them live in a town near you, visit http://www.chkchkchk.net/.

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