Amid the tugging drones and ragged feedback of the new Minmae album, Le Grand Essor de la Maison du Monstre, singer/guitarist Sean Brooks gulps the phrase "lopsided reminders" -- a pretty canny description of Minmae's music itself. Like a fuzzy-lensed camera atop a wobbly tripod, the Portland trio takes snapshots of underground rock's glorious genealogy, from the Velvet Underground to Sebadoh to Yo La Tengo. But Minmae doesn't peddle cookie-cutter indie shlock; shards of post-rock tension and hardcore fever dwell unsettlingly somewhere in the heart of its folky noise pop. Since their first release, in 2000, Brooks and crew have unleashed an impressively consistent string of discs, including last year's stunning I'd Be Scared, Were You Still Burning. Brooks's haggardly delivered lyrics finds almost hermetic significance in the plainspoken and prosaic -- witness Le Grand Essor's "I Was at Johnny's and He Played Phil Ochs" -- which only adds to the nagging feeling that somehow, somewhere, you've heard all these songs before. Only they didn't sound this good then.
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