A recent Denver performance by Portland's The Planet The brought heckles of "pretentious asshole" that were aimed at singer/guitarist Charles Salas-Humara as he pouted, pranced and robot danced his way through a brief set of utterly brain-fucking rock. The Planet The knows how to polarize a crowd; the trio doesn't make sounds with its instruments as much as it jabs holes into space, tracing jittery pointillist patterns of pin-prick rhythm, chromed guitar and vintage analog squawk. Noodling and needling like a mash-up of Yes's Fragile and Erase Errata's At Crystal Palace, Planet's new disc, Physical Angel, is as love-it-or-leave-it as the group's live show. Caked in scruff and road-weariness, it's the sound of a band on the run, a smart, inimitable sonic document that pole-vaults over "dance punk" like the lump of shit it's quickly turning into. Check out Salas-Humara and his posse pumping out their icy, in-concert rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," completely recontextualized for a world where being born in the U.S.A. can result in your burning body falling from a skyscraper. Abrasive doesn't cover it: more like skin-crawling. And yet, The Planet The's marionette-like spasms are supple and liquid enough to shake your ass off to -- that is, if your ass comes equipped with a slide rule and calculator. Pretentious? No doubt. Assholes? Unlikely. Kickin'? Hell, yes.
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