The new record by Mi Ami, Watersports, is full of shrieking vocals – that’s a man singing, not a woman, in case you’re confused. I was the first time I listened. Daniel Martin-McCormick’s high-pitched squeals sound like they’re bouncing off the tumbling, ticking drums and funky bass lines. Guitar and keyboard sounds flit in and out of the mix, sometimes shredding like punk rock, sometimes fluttering through the air. The songs stretch on longer than typical punk tunes, with a sense of musical exploration. Maybe art punk would be an apt description. Whatever you call Mi Ami’s music, it’s invigorating stuff, if a little extreme.
Mi Ami, a trio from San Francisco including two members of Black Eyes, delivered the goods with an energetic set last night (Feb. 17) at the AV-aerie in Chicago. My only complaint was the echoing acoustics of the venue – a Fulton Street loft with a very high ceiling, brick walls and windows looking out on the United Center and the El tracks over Damen.
Mi Ami was the second of three bands on the bill, which started out with a noisy drums-guitar duo with the jokey name Shred Aquarium. The headliner was Thank You, a group on Thrill Jockey that was well matched with Mi Ami. While all three members of this duo sing from time to time, the music feels largely instrumental to me. Or maybe it’s just that the voices are inside the mix. As with Mi Ami, there’s a sense that Thank You is exploring sounds. The Baltimore group has a fine record called Terrible Two out on the Thrill Jockey label.
Since Mi Ami is on Chicago’s venerable Quarterstick label (part of Touch and Go Records), I would be remiss if I failed to point out the news about Touch and Go. As the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot reports on his blog, Touch and Go is ending part of its business – the work it does distributing records for other labels. Touch and Go/Quarterstick are carrying on as record labels, but they’re also laying off some of their staff.
Mi Ami: www.myspace.com/miamiamiami