In the same sense that no matter which Fugazi album you listen to it sounds like a Fugazi album, whether you're talking Capsize 7 or Blag'ard there's something inimitable about Joe Taylor's guitar playing. It connects the spasmodic melodicism of Capsize 7, his mid-'90s indie rock band, to the prickly ring of his current duo, Blag'ard. And on Mach II, it would be an injustice to suggest anything but that Blag'ard continues to refine its hooky, herky-jerky sound. Truth be told, they were good to begin with. Now, they're just better.
Drummer Adam Brinson tightens and slackens the tension like a master angler reeling in Taylor's rollercoaster riffs, which still feel like détente between Archers of Loaf's silky churn and Jawbox's martial slash. Mach II's 10 tracks bristle like an obsessive compulsion, equally difficult to deny or ignore. "Harmony" batters like breakers on a sea wall, keyed to a steepling drum roll punctuated by a crashing downstroke from Taylor, while the knotty "Life In Reverse" sounds particularly Wire-y, opening with the brash assertion, "There are some people who'd like me to shoot myself in the head." In the end, that's a sort of sexual come-on, welcoming the advance yet again—"because even though I'm supposed to get worse, I get better every time I rehearse."
That's just one of several songs that insinuate themselves into your confidences better than contestants on Survivor. Elsewhere, there's the rattling, cowbell-addled "Babushka," which confesses its love for beautiful girls even when they're hurling and gets over with a catchy, ringing chorus that simply refuses to vacate your consciousness. Equally insistent is the album-opening "Get Some," which writhes like Unwound before arriving at its fist-pumping, self-indicting chorus: "I love to hate, I love to hate, because it gets me off in the most serious way ... and I don't want to say it's true." That's the sound of Blag'ard's jagged smile, glinting with charm until it finally bites.
Blag'ard releases Mach II at The Reservoir Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 p.m. Rosie Hellfire and the Red Hot Rebelettes and Michael Rank with Marc Smith open the show. For an interview with the band, see www.indyweekblogs.com/scan.