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Take the Fall


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  • While they've spent most of their career playing to a small cult following rather than achieving the kind of underground success of fellow New York scenesters Sonic Youth or Swans, at their best the Bush Tetras were one of the most powerful and exciting acts to emerge from the downtown noise/punk community in the '80s. The bracing, wiry slash of Pat Place's guitar work took her playing with James Chance and moved into more aggressive and physical territory, and vocalist Cynthia Sley had a voice and an attitude that could stand up to Place's inspired clouds of dissonance. Thirty-eight years after the release of their outstanding debut single "Too Many Creeps," the Bush Tetras are not only still making music, they're as strong and as edgy as they've ever been, and their 2018 EP Take the Fall hardly sounds like the work of a band whose members are eligible to join AARP. Take the Fall features three-quarters of the original Bush Tetras lineup, with bassist Val Opielski sitting in for the late Laura Kennedy, and Place, Sley, and drummer Dee Pop sound no less forceful and a bit more precise in their fusion of throbbing rhythm and shards of guitar than they did in their salad days. The palpable urban malaise of tunes like "True Blue" and "Don't Stop It" confirm this band's take on the world is as fittingly cynical as ever, and the ferocity of the 78-second "Mouse" would put plenty of teenage bands to shame. At five songs and eighteen minutes, if Take the Fall has a flaw, it's that there ought to be more of it, but what's here is top-shelf noise rock from folks who know the ropes and know them well, and it's compelling proof the Bush Tetras are alive, well, and suitably furious in the 2010s. ~ Mark Deming
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