Music News

ZZZZ

Chicago's Sweep the Leg Johnny was always a great band. But that sax? Had to go. Amid all the group's streamlined savagery, singer Steve Sostak's ungodly squawking was about as welcome as a turd in a hot tub. So it's with one hand on the doorknob and the other holding your nose that you should approach Palm Reader, the debut by Sostak's new outfit, ZZZZ. An eight-song collision of math rock, jazz and gypsy eeriness, the disc injects stuttering drums into sultry fistfuls of electric piano and a frenzied, boy/girl vocal symbiosis that verges on dementia. But where Sostak's horn once jarred, it now jells. Freed from a punk-rock context, Sostak is able to wield the reeds with more of an ear for texture and space, soaking his tones in echo even while sharpening their edge on the whetstone of your brain. Like a klezmer Get Hustle, ZZZZ has created a curious and compelling mutation of punk and free music -- and at last perfected the fine art of post-hardcore saxploitation.