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Spend The Night With

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Performer Notes
  • When Cheena's self-titled EP was released by Sacred Bones, it was something of a mystery: how did a label so dedicated to dark experimental sounds discover a band so steeped in rock tradition? As it happens, the band includes some of the label's previously signed artists going in a very different direction, most notably Pharmakon's Margaret Chardiet, who trades power electronics for guitar. Similarly, the rest of Cheena, including members of Crazy Spirit, Anasazi, and Hank Wood & the Hammerheads, opt for '70s-inspired punk and glam rock instead of their usual hardcore punk. The band's first full-length continues Cheena's honing process, giving the songs just enough order to hold them together. Spend the Night With... is a rock & roll jungle complete with a speed freak "Tarzan" and a "Jane" who inspires a good old-fashioned mix of punk lust and disgust ("C'mon baby, make me sick") over churning sounds that suggest a half-speed Ramones. On "Fever" and "Cry for Help," Walker Behl's vocals are stylized to primal gasps and snarls and paired with lunging riffs courtesy of Chardiet and Behl's Crazy Spirit bandmate Eugene Terry. Throughout the album, Cheena modernize their influences by making them sludgier; like fellow New Yorkers Honey, their blurred songs feel like slightly faded memories of rock. Spend the Night With... works best when the band adds some melody to the murk, as on the New York Dolls-esque "Car" and the poppy but menacing "7 Nights" and "Lost My Way." Likewise, Terry's slide guitar sounds distinctive even as it borrows from the legacy of bands like the Gun Club and X on songs like "M.E.," where it's mixed with thundering Sex Pistols riffs in an unlikely but ultimately successful fashion. Things get even stranger on "Electric Snoopy Gang," a Velvet Underground-tinged nursery rhyme about a dog where a slide whistle adds to the surreal feeling. Moments like this make spending the night with Cheena more unpredictable than might have been expected; though the album is somewhat uneven, it proves they've got the potential to give their vintage influences an inspired update. ~ Heather Phares
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