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Magik Markers: Surrender to the Fantasy

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Elisa Ambrogio comes right out of the gate, repeating the line "Everything around me FEELS SO FREE!" on the droney, garage stomper "Crebs." It's the perfect way to open her band's new record.

It's also an apropos declaration, given the band's history. Singer/guitarist Ambrogio, drummer Pete Nolan, and former bassist Leah Quimby began playing messy and dissonant lo-fi noise rock in a Hartford, Conn., basement in 2001. Over time, they have been slowly unraveling their chaos to reveal more melodic and structured songs.

Take for example the snotty whip-punk of "Bonfire," which sounds like Ambrogio doing her best Kathleen Hanna fronting Le Tigre. This is followed by "Mirrorless," wherein she sweetly croons over drum machine beats and dubby bass, which gently keep the song afloat. Later, Ambrogio sounds like a young Patti Smith singing over pulsing noise loops, Hammond organ, and guitar feedback on "Empire Building."

But, the album's centerpiece is "American Sphinx Face." Here, the band stretches out into a long and repetitive jam, with Ambrogio unloading both a lashing spoken-word critique of contemporary American society, as well as some serious skronky guitar soloing.

Sheesh, not only does Ambrogio feel so free, but she and her band sound it, as well. Surrender to the Fantasy is a refreshing break from the indie-garage retread that passes for interesting music these days. Do you want No Wave or do you want the truth?!

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