As captains of the indie dance-party explosion of the past few years, Sacramento groove-punk outfit !!! (pronounced, most commonly, "chk chk chk") made a name for itself primarily as a live act, incorporating healthy doses of funk and electronica-inspired riddims into its post-punk growl. But as Gang of Four-inspired dance- and disco-punk bands spread, multiply and become something of an anachronism (again), !!! has decided to go the opposite route of its cohorts' routine: On Louden Up Now, the chk's seem revitalized, maybe more exciting than ever. Rather than parodying copycat funk-punk, !!! has joined a tiny, select group of contemporaries (Liars, TV on the Radio) that individually have defined themselves with a unique and immediately recognizable sound. For !!!, it's long, slowly simmering grooves over simple chord structures, incorporating oddly processed yet organic guitar sounds, atmospheric noises, Afrobeat horn sections, and creepy, politically inspired lyrics.
It's a process that began with last year's single, "Me and Giuliani Down By the School Yard," also included on Louden Up Now, with its club-ready dance beat and lyrical jabs at Giuliani's and Bloomberg's New York City -- not that of 9/11 heroics, but of Footloose-esque cabaret licenses and dance bans. ("Y'all could learn a lesson / by losing inhibitions, yeah / losing yourself in the music.") The album's new single, "Pardon My Freedom," might be the son of "Me and Giuli" -- an angrier, funnier, obscenity-laced cocktail of Gang-style disco and Dog-Faced Hermans' guitar pranks. (Try this for a dance-floor anthem sing-a-long: "You can tell the president / to suck my fucking dick / does that sound intelligent? / like I give a fucking frick." Tee hee.)
But within Louden Up Now are numerous solid singles, each shouting to peek out of deejays' crates and hipsters' disc shelves alike. The Bush-and-Blair bashing series of "Shit Scheisse Merde" parts one and two, and best of all, "Hello? Is This Thing On?," a seven-and-a-half minute post-punk funk exercises that flexes !!!'s two fortes: patient, quaking dance-floor jive and stormy, blood-curdling paranoia.