The Lost Sounds with Hank and Action Makes at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Tuesday (August 24). $8. 416-763-9139.
Memphis, Tennessee, isn't likely the first place that comes to mind when discussions turn to current centres of new wave insurgency. Actually, it probably won't even crack the top 30, which makes the River City emergence of snarling synth rippers the Lost Sounds all the more intriguing. As you might expect from a group formed by ex-members of no-fi punk crew the Reatards, there's nothing namby-pamby about the electro-scorch that comes screeching out of the Lost Souls.
Sure, there's some man/machine business going on that betrays the inspiration of Devo and perhaps early Gary Numan on their latest release, Future Touch (In the Red), but typically they like to keep things as dark, dirty and demented as you'd hope from Memphis maulers schooled in the 70s synth savagery of the Screamers and the Units.
"A lot of bands try to make post-apocalyptic music, but we live it in Memphis," explains guitarist Jay Lindsey from Atlanta. "I mean, I love that city, but it's fucked. It's like post-war Saigon or some shit.
"If you go out for a bite to eat a block from your home, somebody might punch you in the head. There's a lot of negative inspiration in Memphis, which is why we sound like we do. Memphis is the real fuckin' deal."
Considering the current fascination with all things 80s and the indie rock crowd's heightened interest in danceable beats, the Lost Sounds' recent turn toward a more palatable crunch on Future Touch opens up the possibility of reaching a whole new audience. They've already started to be lumped in with the synth-pop revival, a development Lindsey doesn't see as entirely favourable.
"The idea behind the new recording wasn't so much about moving forward as just trying to make something that didn't sound like all the crap we'd done before. The last thing we wanted to do was come off like just another synth-pop band. That shit annoys the fuck outta me.
"We love synthesizers - don't get me wrong. They provide for so many sonic possibilities. It's a device that could be used to destroy an audience, yet you get all these assholes using synths to play this melodic Cure and Depeche Mode bullshit.
"Electronics are meant to sound harsh. I mean, is electricity friendly?"
Well, yes, if it's used properly, electricity could be considered our friend. It's certainly very helpful in providing things like light and heat.
"Yeah, but it also shocks you. I think if you play electronic music, it shouldn't sound like Duran Duran - it should melt your face."
There's not much threat of any faces being melted from the Lost Sounds' bouncy cover of Black Flowers, originally recorded by Arizona's Digital Leather as Flowers From The Future. If anything, it looks like the jarring joint could touch off a new pogo craze, as it's already causing a stir on hipper New York dance floors.
Even though the Lost Sounds have just started touring behind their seven-song Future Touch EP, Lindsey has already noticed a change in their audience.
"Every record we do seems to hit a different demographic, from gay rage rockers to synth nerds to backpack kids and goth girls, and last night it was all fashion punks. So I guess that's our new audience - pretty boys in tight pants and white belts with pyramid spikes."