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LIVE "Koalamagic"

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Album Review

Possibly titled due to Australian recording locations — though it's nowhere specified if that's actually the case in the credits — the live, half-hour-long Koalamagic serves up one long and four short tracks from the group over four years' time. Only bassist/singer Satomi and drummer Greg appears on all tracks, making the disc a sort-of band history as alternate arrangements and lineups came and went. The long cut at the start is actually seven or eight tracks from a 2000 show cut as one combined track without any edits, featuring the turn-of-the-millennium trio lineup of the group finding their own stop-start crumble and crunch metier. Greg is arguably the most prominent member here, his blasting clashes on his kit slipping through tempos and fills just as he pleases without diluting the energy, though guitarist John, who proved a smart recruitment for the group, comes up with great abbreviated riffs and squalls. Satomi herself projects the spirit of a winsome singer crossed with caffeinated genes as she pleases — the initial shift from high-pitched aggression to sweet calm is downright startling — but for the most part relies on subtlety even as she and her compatriots fire things up. Meanwhile, the band's dips into classic rock raunch for seconds at a time make for a disorienting experience that's still pretty cool — it's almost like a Led Zeppelin soundcheck that's meant to sound that way, only with a different singer. The remaining numbers are enjoyable enough dips into Deerhoof's disorienting sound; "Insist," featuring the same lineup as the lead track, is a fairly monstrous slab of post-punk doom gone epic, while the 1996-era medley concluding the disc encapsulates chaos in six minutes flat. Satomi does a nice job rocking the bells at points, to be sure.


Formed: 1994 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

By turns cuddly and chaotic, San Francisco's Deerhoof mix noise, sugary melodies, and an experimental spirit into sweetly challenging and utterly distinctive music. The group began as the brainchild of guitarist Rob Fisk and drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier in 1994; early releases, such as the 1995 7"s Return of the Woods M'Lady and For Those of Us on Foot, had a more traditionally harsh, no wave-inspired sound, though they also included the quirky tendencies that dominated their later efforts. Vocalist/bassist...
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