Brian Pennington briefly played bass in the local hardcore group Shogun -- and later became its drummer. It's no surprise, then, that he's poured his multi-instrumental talents into a one-man studio project, Radiant Republic of Texas. But where many people's solo debuts are empty echoes of their previous bands, Lightning Always Strikes Something could pass as the product of full four-piece, one that bears scant resemblance to Shogun's gut-trawling metallurgy. Recorded in Chicago at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio, the disc showcases Pennington's ability to deftly layer riffs, beats, clever wordplay and even soap-opera-theme piano, evoking a post-hardcore perplexity that draws from the pissed yet progressive textures of Jawbox, Polvo and later Unwound. There's no denying that Lightning is the sound of Pennington spanking his musical monkey -- but if the results continue to be so compelling, someone get this guy a Guitar Center catalogue and a jug of K-Y jelly.
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