Changing of the avant-garde

When it comes to avant-garde rock bands, there are usually two distinct routes: noisy cathartic (Sonic Youth, Dead C) and dissonant/drone-y ominous (Spiritualized, This Heat). Then there are the bands that go the other extreme, exuding a smug “Gosh, aren’t we just so zany and quirky?” attitude. Few bands seem to be willing to push the envelope with a sense of humor and a memorable melody. That’s why the latest platter by Grampall Jookabox, Ropechain, is so gratifying—it sounds bracingly original and oddly approachable simultaneously. The medium of Indianapolis dwellers David “Moose” Adamson and Aimee Brown, Grampall Jookabox don’t lend themselves to glib descriptive phrases. A crickets-at-night beat and played-backward mantra-like female choir sounding like Madagascar or Bollywood pop drives “Black Girls.” “Let’s Go Mad Together” is a send-up of Us vs. Them paranoia and synth-pop (with a killer old-style Black Sabbath riff), while “Strike Me Down” is hip-hop with T-Rex-style vocals for a Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western, complete with whistling and lonely twang. GJ possess a spirited sense of psychedelic wonder and possibility (with a smidgen of dub, too). -Mark Keresman
Mon., Nov. 10, 7 p.m., 2008
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Mark Keresman