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Punkgasm

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Album Review

As the second album by the new incarnation of Don Caballero, led by the last remaining original member, drum virtuoso Damon Che, Punkgasm finds the band searching for a new direction. Some of the old sensibilities remain, but here they rifle through various styles outside the realm of syncopated interplay, even (gasp!) incorporating songs with vocals, and it's interesting to see them try to break the holding pattern of intricately carved polyrhythms. "Why Is the Couch Always Wet" swims in My Morning Jacket reverb and harmonies, "Celestial Dusty Groove" mimics the choppy indie rock of Jawbox and Shiner, and the titular song that ends the album is a '70s punk throwback to the Fall and P.I.L., complete with snidely squeaked vocals. These songs are actually executed quite well, and the group seems to have a chameleon-like ability to impersonate. Otherwise, the instrumentals that highlight pinprick guitar picking and syncopated beats have moments of technical brilliance, and they still comprise almost half of the album.

Biography

Formed: 1991 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Pittsburgh math rockers Don Caballero were one of the first bands to expand on the work of genre innovators like Bastro, Bitch Magnet, and (especially) Slint. Their music was entirely instrumental, and while their guitar interplay was as complex and dissonant as any of their peers, the real driving force behind their precisely calibrated attack was virtuosic drummer Damon Che. In essence, it was Che's manic explosions and stop-on-a-dime shifts in time signature that mapped out the trail his bandmates...
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