Arts Desk

Local Label Spotlight: Little Women on SocketsCDR

A few weeks ago I wrote up Extra Life; now here comes another offshoot of NYC avant-garde rockers Zs: a quartet of dual sax, guitar and drums by the name of Little Women. Little Women's debut recording is a 19-minute thrash-jazz blowout released by SocketsCDR, a local label run by Sean Peoples (of FFFFs, Hand Fed Babies, Big Cats and so on). Sockets has previously put out a bunch of DC experimental/noise type stuff, with some 40+ releases under its belt. I believe Teeth is actually their first or second release to come out on an actual pressed CD rather than a CD-R.

There's a good-cop bad-cop kind of thing going on here: if Extra Life is the nice, accessible Zs spinoff, Little Women are the mean, violent mofos. Much less structured and rigorously composed than Zs' chamber-music approach to math rock, Teeth sounds like a live-in-the-studio take, featuring all the energy of a punk rock show distilled into less than 20 minutes. The two saxophonists alternate between improvised flailing skronk of the most strident kind and blistering unison lines, with frequent breakdowns that showcase Ben Greenberg (the Zs member here) pounding away with a clean, undistorted guitar tone. Like Univers Zero, who I profiled last week, it's impossible to pigeonhole this stuff; one moment there's an obviously free jazz-influenced blowfest, the next there's a thrash-metal breakdown, and through it all there's this kind of punk-rock aggro.

The final track ends with some or all of the band members babbling and screaming with maniacal abandon, all pretense of "music" tossed aside. Like the rest of this short debut album, it's not pretty, but it's certainly intense, and it will probably alienate a lot of listeners. It's also an indication that these guys don't take themselves too seriously, an ever-present criticism when it comes to such uncompromisingly uncommercial music.

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