SALEM play Wrongbar tonight (Thursday, March 17). See listing. Rating: NNNN
The haunting, hard-living and controversial Michigan band Salem have a we-just-don't-give-a-fuck approach to playing live that detractors often cite as a weakness, and after watching their now-infamous dazed performance at last year's SXSW on YouTube, I find those charges tough to counter. (They make Crystal Castles look like Tony Robbins.)
Still, on record their now-signature spooky combination of heavy slow-mo synths, ethereal vocals and hyperactive, club-ripped percussion is creepy perfection. This debut LP updates five tracks from previous EPs and offers six new ones, all cleanly mixed by industrial/hardcore-leaning producer Dave Sardy.
They might be unreliable performers, but their studio work is forward-thinking and beautiful in an oddly satisfying, downtrodden way.
Top track: Redlights