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Those Kids Are Wierder

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Album Review

From the opening chaos of "Moss Worth Embossing," the relentless energy and focus of Chicago's Hubcap is obvious. On the purposefully misspelled Those Kids Are Wierder, the band was a sort of early-emo supergroup, featuring Jay Ryan of Dianogah and Billy Smith of Haymarket Riot. Drummer and vocalist Andrew Zboralski rounded out the group. Originally released as a nine-track LP in 1996 on Actionboy Records, Michigan's 54º40' or Fight! Records re-released Those Kids Are Wierder with bonus tracks in 2001. The 26-track retrospective compiles virtually every song the band ever recorded, and it's an impressive collection of artsy pop-punk rock. The band drew comparisons to U.S. Maple and Brainiac, but it's not that simple. Intricate rhythms and a decidedly D.I.Y. spirit reign supreme throughout, adding up to an impressive record of a band in their prime. Highlights include the ambitious "If You Love a Song (The Song Will Love You Back)," the bass-heavy "The Golden Age of Brass," and the layered piano and found sounds of "Small Child in Snow Blizzard." "Umberhulk" features samples from the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, showing a unique creativity, while "Disco Party USA" has a refreshing recorded-in-the-basement aura, adding a gritty punk rock spirit to the disc's festivities. Two different versions of "5678" and "Dweomer" are also featured. Six live tracks are featured near the end, adding a resounding rawness to the legacy of their sound. "Got the Dough" ends the disc with an interesting mix of hip-hop experimentation and improvisation by the trio. Guest musicians include Sava Vuckovic, Bob Nanna, Dylan Posa, Bob Weston, and George Babicz. The tracks were recorded by a variety of producers, most notably Steve Albini. In the end, the disc is an exhaustingly complete record of inventive songs by a quirky, ahead-of-their-time group.

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