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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013

Like Like The The The Death Tap the Underground, In All Its Forms

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Listening to Cave Jenny, the latest album by Milwaukee’s Like Like The The The Death—LLTTTD for short, please—is like taking a manic tour of the past 25 years of underground music. From the explosive opening strains of “Here Comes Irregular” to the piano chords that close “Very Important Fun Person” Cave Jenny highlights a band with a ravenous appetite for a countless assortment of past musical moments and movements. Late-’80s Chicago-scene noise rock? Check. Late-’90s emo? Double-check. Current indie rock darlings Japandroids can have their “post-nothing” vibe. LLTTTD are post-everything.

This willingness to draw from a host of genres produces a sound that keeps the listener always on her toes. “We always set out to write songs that we would be excited about even if we weren’t in the band,” explains guitarist Michael Marchant, who, along with Dan Hanke (drums), Kyle Scheuer (bass and vocals) and Anthony Weber (guitar and vocals), makes up the four-piece. “I’ve always been a fan of that sense of discovery and creating a relationship with music. It’s fun to put those kinds of albums on and hear something new with every spin.” Scheuer and Weber’s dueling vocals alone create an almost schizophrenic atmosphere throughout the album, with each vocalist competing for space within an already overly dense soundscape.

As one might expect from such a description, this is undoubtedly a “serious” record. Yet there is a looseness to Cave Jenny—along with a well-defined sense of humor present (Replacements fans will appreciate the “Here Comes Irregular” pun)—that only adds to the album’s appeal. Local producer extraordinaire Shane Hochstetler, who the band worked with on their first album, Ghosts of Dead Bros (2012), coaxed a confident, fun sound out of the band during the Cave Jenny recording session. Speaking of Hochstetler, Marchant notes, “He is the most friendly and relaxed dude to work with. He has a very quiet proficiency and knows how to deal with the pain that comes from trying to get musicians to agree on an idea and move forward.” For LLTTTD, he seems a perfect fit, giving the band the space to explore all of the detours and curves that have come to define their sound.

In many ways, LLTTTD may best be viewed as the personification of Milwaukee’s eclectic underground music scene. To Marchant, “There’s a lot of good original music being created across an entire spectrum of genres. Most of it is slightly off and hard to pin a label on.” He is more than happy to play with other bands that are pushing things and taking risks with their music. “And a lot of those kinds of risks,” concludes Marchant, “might not make them fit anywhere else but here. I’m fine with LLTTTD being another one of the peculiar pieces in that puzzle.”

Marchant notes that LLTTTD was founded “with drunken handshakes on Oct. 16, 2010, at a Cactus Club show, interestingly enough.” Three years later, the band returns to their birthplace to celebrate the physical release of Cave Jenny, the band’s first on the well-respected indie label Latest Flame Records (the album will be available in limited edition vinyl and CD formats at the show). Let’s hope the band is able to commemorate that handshake this time every year.

LLTTTD’s release show is at 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, at the Cactus Club, 2496 S. Wentworth Ave.