Sometimes too much caffeine can be a horrific thing: the shakes, the jerks, that vicious nervousness that boils your intestines in adrenaline, blood rushing so hot you can feel your veins sweat. Listening to Get Hustle (appearing Wednesday, December 4, with V for Vendetta at Monkey Mania, 2126 Arapahoe Street) can have much the same effect. As former members of San Diego hardcore legend Antioch Arrow, Get Hustle's Ron Avila and Mac Mann are certainly no strangers to aural malaise. AA's 1994 swan song Gems of Masochism was a sprawling mess of goth-rock murkiness and post-punk torque, whipping its listeners' synapses more severely than would a bucket of Turkish coffee.
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Dream Eagle 1, Get Hustle's fifth release since its inception in 1996, strikes even further into the arcane realms of rhythm and noise. The Portland quartet's lineup is as tweaked as its song structures; guitar and bass are cast aside in favor of organ and piano, rounded out by drums and vocals. The twin keyboards slither and pound, ragged textures overlapped with sheets of clean, white ivory. The feel is dense, jazzy, like Sahara-era McCoy Tyner sitting in with the Bad Seeds. Singer Valentine Hussar convulses and writhes through her lines, hallucinations full of ritual, deformity and decadence. Her languid phrasing and rich, throaty voice recall an opium-choked Patti Smith, husky with poetry. Avila's drumming is at least as lyrical; his beats pop out in tightly wound bursts like springs out of a cartoon clock.
Get Hustle is surely not the first band to mix dark cabaret with punk ferocity. Bands such as Bauhaus, Christian Death and Colorado's own the VSS all put their twist on this formula years ago. Nor is Get Hustle alone today: Everyone from Pleasure Forever to Black Heart Procession to Dream City Film Club traffics in some form of this avant-goth narcotic. Still, the band infuses the corpse of death-rock with a spirit of pure chaos and experimentalism that is the true legacy of its predecessor Antioch Arrow. As abrasive, unsettling and jittery as Get Hustle's music can be, it's as addictive as a morning cup of joe. Or maybe twelve.