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Album Review

When bass player Jacob Long left dance-punk trio Mi Ami, the band resurfaced as a completely different beast. Remaining members Daniel Martin-McCormick and Damon Palermo put down drum sticks and stringed instruments of any kind, opting instead for vintage drum machines and samplers, stretching out the parameters of what the "rock" version of Mi Ami had begun. Where earlier recordings had much in common with the early-'80s no-wave grooves of Liquid Liquid or ESG, the electronic musings of the duo version of the band took the form of deep house-informed beats and dreamily chopped samples, the only real remnants of the Mi Ami of old being Martin-McCormick's occasional screeching vocals. Picking up where 2011's Dolphins left off, Decade finds the band subtly refining their new approach over the span of four lengthy tracks. The sub-aquatic pulse of Palermo's 707 drum machine beats keeps all four tracks in a similar downtempoed groove, laying a foundation for Martin-McCormick's zoned keyboards and a variety of samples both nightmarish and dreamy. Decade rolls by as a unified whole more than it does separate stand-out tracks. The lazy drone of "Time of Love" spills into the equally elongated "Free of Life," both songs working as wide open canvases for the duo's playful experimentation with floating sounds and rhythmic interjections. Vocals and structure don't play much of a role in Decade until album-closer "Bells," which matches the feverish house drive of the rest of the album but fills it out with dynamic breakdowns and shifts in sound. Riding atop everything on this track are Martin-McCormick's unique vocals, bratty but impassioned, and treated with ever-changing delay in the vein of the Pop Group or even Throbbing Gristle's more demented approaches at pop. Decade is definitely less about focus and more about throwing it all at the wall in slow motion, but by the time "Bells" rolls around, the band seems to finally have a grip on what's sticking, and the potential for more fully-realized future work comes into view.


Formed: San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

San Francisco's "drum punk" trio Mi Ami feature guitarist/vocalist Daniel Martin-McCormick, bassist Jacob Long, and drummer Damon Palermo. Martin-McCormick and Long came from Dischord's kinetic, percussive group Black Eyes, who disbanded in 2004; the two wanted to take their music in a freer direction, and played together briefly as the free jazz-inspired duo White Flight. Long moved to California and Martin-McCormick followed, studying classical guitar at San Francisco State University. They connected...
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Decade, Mi Ami
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