Acts Playing South by Southwest


The Social Disease (Plethorazine)

Since Austin's Kiss Offs cease-and-desisted, there's been a regional scarcity of slightly standoffish bands with boy-girl vocals. Or there was. Houston sex-tet Japanic comes off a bit like an older sibling's postgraduate-studies cohorts who decided to ditch their dissertations in favor of rocking out. Their second release, The Social Disease, is coffeehouse edgy and nightclub cool, detached enough to lump them in with the Make Up and those other post-ironic bands, but only a couple of degrees removed from the giddy glam-pop of the B-52's. "Which do you prefer, the subject or the verb" asks one song, "the doer or the thing that gets done?" Even if adjectives are more your speed, it's difficult to resist Japanic's contagious aloofness. Singers Tex Kerschen and Margeaux Cigainero converse like a couple who can stand each other just enough to indulge their shared Devo appreciation, as the sly guitars puncture the tension with just a hint of frugging, feel-good Sixties winks. Though Houston is presently best-known for a certain trio of R&B divas, that my-way-or-the-highway attitude cut with a healthy appreciation for the dance floor also works for the city's rock bands. Or at least this one. (Friday, March 16, Iron Cactus, midnight)


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