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Album Review

Specializing in no-wave flavored indie rock, UUVVWWZ's name originated when they tried to map out the phrasing of one of their songs by jotting down notes on a brown paper bag. Followers of music theory will recognize right away that UUVVWWZ isn't a typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure, and while many of the group's songs aren't quite as unusual as that string of letters seems (most of them do, in fact, incorporate choruses), the group steers pretty far from the norm on their self-titled record. The musicianship is stripped down and deconstructed, with close attention paid to negative space. Sometimes this instrumentation, or lack thereof, verges on messy, but never to the point of feeling unfocused or falling apart. Tom Ambroz lays down jagged beats that are more about the time signature than power; Jim Schroeder can shred hard by way of dissonant, zig-zagging guitar runs between chunky guitar chords, but he often chooses to dumb down his abilities by playing single notes; and Dustin Wilbourn plays the backbone role, trying to hold it all together by mirroring the guitar work or by playing tasteful, in-the-pocket bass riffs. The real star of the show, like it or not, is the prominently mixed Teal Gardner, who either shrieks like a banshee or sings in a sultry Chan Marshall style. When she opts for the second method, she tends to go for tricky notes, sometimes hitting them and sometimes waivering around them, making her voice an acquired taste. Similarly, her lyrics are intelligible, but they're not easily decipherable. Even though English is her first language, it might not be so clear when she sings infantile lines straight-faced, like "Honey call me when you want to talk/And we can talk hard/All work can be fun/Fun to work hon/Got to be on!/I like to be on!" and the barbaric battle cry "Have want!/Have need!/Have want!/Now be!" There's definitely a J-pop influence present, particularly in the excellent Melt Banana tribute "Jap Dad," where Gardner titters Morse code jibberish over a crazy descending guitar and bass scale before squealing the hook "M.A.K.E.M.E.L.O.V.E.Y.O.U!" These wilder songs, along with "Shark Suit" and the fierce "Trapezeus," show that UUVVWWZ is a unique force in the indie world, and the sweet, soothing moments of "Neolaño" and "The Sun" prove that they're just as good when they show restraint and mellow out. There's a fine line between simplicity and chaos.


Formed: Lincoln, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Their music isn't quite as strange as their name, but it's close. UUVVWWZ (pronounced "double U, double V, double double U, Zee") take their weirdo cues from indie bands like Deerhoof, Micachu, and Kap Bambino with unconventional song structures, angular guitar riffage, rigid start-stop rhythms, and frantic yelping. Guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Dustin Wilbourn, drummer Tom Ambroz, and vocalist Teal Gardner formed the group in their hometown of Lincoln, NE, in 2007. That year, they wrote nine...
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