Critic's Choice

Hot Snakes have quite a serpentine history. Singer/guitarist Rock Froberg fronted Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu, two late-'80s/early- '90s San Diego bands that stabbed jarring shards of guitar and fanged invective into sinuous post-punk rhythms. Jehu's other guitarist, John Reis, is now notorious as Rocket From the Crypt's frat-rock ringleader, as well as the prolific force behind the Sultans and Back Off Cupids. Hot Snakes, who appear Monday, August 26, at Tulagi in Boulder, reunites Reis and Froberg for the first time since Jehu disbanded in 1995. Their new combo's first release, 2000's Automatic Midnight, pretty much picked up where Jehu left off; it's a little lighter on the algebraic guitar interplay, though, and heavier on the slow-simmered intensity. This year's follow-up, Suicide Invoice, is even more brooding, with acidic dissonance and bitter melody slithering through a minefield of riffs and hooks. "I Hate the Kids," the album's opening track, sounds like the missing link between Wire and Fugazi, and songs like "Bye Nancy Boy" are misanthropic anthems showcasing Froberg's caustic sneer. Hot Snakes have, as Lao Tzu said, untangled a few of their knots; their music, though, is as venomous as ever. -- Jason Heller


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