Homebrew | MUSIC: Homebrew | Indy Week

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I know this record came out last year, but after seeing Le Tigre's recent Cat's Cradle show I had to review it. The band's self-titled debut for Durham's Mr. Lady Records goes for an intentionally retro, lo-fi sound, using simple drum machine beats, samples, guitar bass and vocals. (According to the producer, Chris Stamey, many of the tracks were recorded on an old reel-to-reel tape machine inside a mixing board.) Lyrically, the band are unabashedly PC, but their clever take on feminist themes prevents them from becoming a drag, as in "What's Yr Take on Cassavetes," where they ask "Genius? Misogynist?" about the auteur's films. (You decide.) Comprised of Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, underground videomaker Sadie Benning and zine writer Justine Fateman, Le Tigre manages to combine the good-natured vibe of '80s New Wave with current hip-girl rhetoric and pop culture references. Like the early B-52s, they exude a bouncy, amateurish charm that comes through on the album. "Hot Topic," a catchy dance number that name-checks a slew of female icons, is also featured on a four-song EP (available as an import), with a remix by DJ Ham and Cheese on Rye. "Les and Ray" is Hanna's thank-you to a couple who were her neighbors growing up, while "Dude Yr So Crazy" is a bust on the macho party-dude mentality. Hanna's vibrato-enhanced whoops and screeches may hark back to the New Wave stylings of Lene Lovich--or the synth cabaret of Soft Cell's Marc Almond (moved up an octave)--but the attitude is pure now.

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