Charlie Megira & The Modern Dance Club // Love Police
Guitars and Bongos
Recommended Track: Beneath the Underground
Who the fuck is Charlie Megira? With his Alan Vega sunglasses, two-tone western shirt and poof of frazzled black hair, the Tel Avivian rocker could pass for John Leguizamo in a Kenneth Anger short. A quick Google query reveals a Facebook page with only 417 likes and an assortment of Youtube videos with less than 1,000 views. To put it quite simply, he is not a man on Pitchfork’s radar.
His latest venture with backing band The Modern Dance Club is a crash course in the history of subversive rock music. Love Police is Pollock with a pick, a heterogeneous mosaic that shimmies and pogos its way from traditional surf instrumentals to aggro noise punk and everything between. “The Return of the Russian Frogmen That Died and Came Back to Life as Strange Looking Radioactive Creatures” is essentially two minutes of feedback that explodes into a live clip of approving punk kids. Megira’s prankster sensibility leads to many of these inanely charming song titles like “The Strange and Bizarre Tale of the Boy Who Had One Testicle Too Many” and “Beach Bums Must Die”.
When Love Police ditches the chichi gags there really is a lot to process. “Rhythm of Hate” and “Street Machine” are breakneck punk ragers with Megira tapping into the maniacal vocal energy of Tomata du Plenty. “Boo” can only be described as flying saucer turbulence while “Psychic Youth 2” is vintage post-punk. “Another No Wave Exercise” could’ve been made in Jim Jarmusch’s garage and “Beneath the Underground” is more Screamers-worthy madness. “Dead Girl Blues” takes a page from the later period folk and country blues of Big Bill Broonzy. “Beach Bums Must Die” shows off Megira’s virtuoso surf riff mastery, as does “Sababa?”, a too short, beach blanket doozy.
To be sure, this is not an album without flaws. Some of the 20 and 30 second “songs” are nothing more than ambient noise that do little to complement the record other than to serve as annoying interludes. “Smack Dab” extends this formula for a minute and a half of weird industrial effects. “Mao/Mao” is a similarly WTF-inducing exercise in experimental noise. But the amount of solid material is enough to permit a few momentary dustups. Megira is definitely lucky to have the backing of phenomenal drummer Mimi Shanel and The Dead Girl on bass, both of whom seem to be willing to put up with anything short of re-scoring Eraserhead. Love Police is one of the most interesting records of the year, worth a listen if even just for its utter depravity.