OUIJA RADIO – Oh No… Yes! Yes!

CD Reviews 15 Oct 2006

ouijaradio_ohnoyesyesOUIJA RADIO – Oh No… Yes! Yes!

(2006   Crustacean)

The newest addition to Crustacean Records roster, Minneapolis natives Ouija Radio, is creating something entirely fresh with audacious riffs, infectious hooks and a dedication to incredible tone. The songs are post-punk, new-wave flavored concoctions that meld the Pretenders with the Kinks and then smash the whole thing into ground, churning it through severe reverbs and overdriven amplifiers. The resulting CD, Oh No…Yes!Yes!,is manic, fun, groovy and addictive.

Singer and musical visionary Christy Hunt absolutely explodes on this album. The wide variety of instruments she employs offers a depth to this music that you wouldn’t expect from a three-piece rock outfit. From searing guitars to ragingly distorted synth lines to delicate organs swirling around the stereo field, Hunt pulls out all the stops. And her voice, reminiscent of the early days of Gwen Stefani with the attitude of the Siousxie Sioux, is a significant part of this band’s sound. Her lyrics are witty, performed with grace and power, and her style is sensual. From the gritty rage of opening track “Red Eye Fly” and its utterly engaging vocal hooks to the moody, melancholy performance of “Fairweather” to the melodic, poppy feel of “Tomorrow is Our Last Today,” she shows a broad capacity to adapt her voice and presence to the ever- mutating musical collage.

But without the rock-solid drumming of Charles Gehr and the brash bass and backing vocals of Helz Belz, the whole crazy contraption might just fall apart. But it never does. This rhythm section is a powerhouse; the distorted bass clings to the hyper-manic drum performances. In the surf-laced instrumental “Spirit of the Ox,” these two delve into the heart of Americana and ratchet it up a few levels until the whole thing gels into a controlled, polished insanity. “Spinning Cyclone Death Machine” showcases Hunt’s fantastic piano skills while the Zappa-esque freakouts form a sonically intriguing and potent presence. And just when you thought they’d done it all, a cover of T-Bone Walker’s classic “Stormy Monday” gives you a huge dose of blues, with brassy vocals and a steamy performance from the whole damn band.

The last two tunes on this disc, the melancholy, Flaming Lips-inspired “Lantern Light” and the tight, psychedelic pop-rocker “Sunrise in California,” cap a fantastic and diverse record. Each of these two tunes is so immensely different from the other that the aural signature of this band evolves yet another step. Oh No… Yes! Yes! is at times delicate, at times raging, at times gorgeous and at times ferocious. But through the whole journey, a core of creative exploration and artistry bleeds through, giving you a glimpse into the soul of this sometimes giddy, sometimes morose, always entertaining band.

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