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Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014

Body Futures Park at the Intersection of Noise and Pop

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Chalk it up as another on the long list of ways that the Internet has made modern life easier and more convenient, but it was only 15 years ago that bands posted flyers when they were seeking a bassist or drummer. These days, of course, a simple Facebook post is much more efficient. That’s how singer/keyboardist Dixie Jacobs, formerly of the psyched-out Milwaukee shoegaze band White Wrench Conservatory, went about assembling her latest band, Body Futures. Jacobs put out a call for players interested in starting a band that sounded like The Birthday Party, and within days she had a group practicing in her basement. The band gelled so quickly that she wasn’t even bummed that they didn’t end up sounding anything like The Birthday Party.

Answering Jacobs’ call were D.J. Hostettler, the longtime drummer for the excitable noise-pop band IfIHadAHiFi; Michael Wojtasiak, bassist for the power-pop combo Five Mod Four; and guitarist Christopher Maury, formerly of rockers Everybody At Midnight. Given that pedigree, it shouldn’t be too surprising how Body Futures’ sound shaped up. They draw from a wide pool of jumpy, noisy, catchy indie-rock, in particular bands like Shudder To Think, Enon and Beauty Pill—groups that weren’t afraid to temper their loud guitars with a giddy dose of pop. Even the fastest, brashest songs on Body Futures’ debut album, Brand New Silhouettes, are flushed with eager hooks and enthusiastic harmonies.

“I’ve noticed that generally with the vocals in noisier music you get a lot more yelling and screaming, so there’s less thought put into vocal hooks,” Hostettler remarks. “I never quite got that. I would rather put the work in and come up with something that actually hooks the listener.”

That’s something that many contemporary bands playing with similar influences have been reluctant to do—if anything, noise-rock and post-hardcore have grown harsher and more austere over the last decade, as their counterpart indie rock has gone the opposite route, trending ever softer. But Body Futures enjoy playing up the lighter side of noisy music. There’s nothing gruff or intimidating about their call-and-response vocals, harmonic interplay, twitchy keyboards or flashy time signatures. It’s all done in the spirit of amusement.

“I’m writing about stuff that means something to me, and I take these songs seriously, but I don’t want to take the band too serious,” Jacobs says. “I just want to have a good time, and I think the other guys do, too.”

That carefree attitude befits a band that understands their sound is a bit out of step with indie-rock’s current tastes. Hostettler, in particular, laments how loud guitars, once a staple of nearly all underground rock, have fallen out of favor over the last decade.

“If you would have told me 10 years ago that banjos were going to be the most popular indie-rock instrument I probably would have thrown myself off a cliff,” he says. “So I don’t even know what kind of audience there is for the kind of music we play anymore, but I’m not sure we care either, because we’re having such a good time playing it.”

Body Futures play an album release show Friday, Aug. 8, at the Cactus Club at 10 p.m. with The Rutebega and Like Like The The The Death.