!!! Shake the Shudder

!!! Shake the Shudder
7
All the attention that is currently being paid to the early aughts New York rock scene has largely ignored !!!. The punctuation-obsessed band were contemporaries of their more famous peers, and their hybrid disco-post-punk sound was a bright light amongst the dance-punk revival. Their music has aged incredibly well in the ensuing years, which has a lot to do with their adherence to their original raison d'être: Moving butts on dance floors.
 
That's more explicit than ever on the band's seventh full-length, which dials back the funk while turning up the four-on-the-floor grooves. It's a subtle change, one that casual fans may not even notice, but it's a significant one. Shake the Shudder is the band's closest nod to its disco roots, right down to the mix of female singers who trade lines with frenetic frontman Nick Offer, and mixing farmed out to dance producers like Joakim and Phil Moffa.
 
You could accuse !!! of failing to change over the course of their 20-plus year career, but digging through their discography reveals a band who have made incremental steps, as each record emphasizes one element of their heady sound. Once partial to peppering their jams with bouts of no wave noise, the group have since embraced a tight, crisp production style that emphasizes the groove while creating space for vocal vamps offset by Offer's sing-spoken turns.
 
The songs are short and punchy, and nod to the anything-goes attitude that pervaded the jams sessions from which they were born. Shake the Shudder was written before the U.S. election, in Barcelona, but it's hard not read the jubilation baked into its grooves as a subtle form of protest. After all, this is a band whose first blush of fame came via a clever dig against Rudy Giuliani's crusade against New York's thriving underground club culture. If they haven't already made it clear, in the world of !!!, dancing truly is the best revenge. (Warp)