The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts December 15, 2006

Strip Mall Seizures Release No English

Strip Mall Seizures
No English

Conjuring up images of drunken, sweaty basement show fun, Oakland, California’s Strip Mall Seizures’ heady blend of Balkan accordion melodies, hardcore drumming and feedback-drenched guitar guts is as potent as it is infectious. I don’t know the Seizures personally, but I’d venture to say that based on the chaotic exuberance the group dishes out on their debut release, No English, they’re the kind of folks who end up passed out in the backyard shrubs with your mother’s lampshades on their heads by evening’s end.

Not unlike fellow Oakland band Experimental Dental School’s fusion of ominous organ, sugary noise, and frenetic tempos, Strip Mall Seizures dabble in punk ferocity with an experimental streak—a self-described “magically diasporic cyber death punk.”

But where EDS teeter on the line between haste and precision, Strip Mall Seizures thrive on an unswerving abandon that often sounds like the tape is about to burst. Accordionist Bronson Pinochet and bassist Bork Schism play with so much gusto that they can barely keep up with the tempos, while drummer Matt Partisan often sounds like he’s hitting the cymbals so hard he’s about to keel over.

The maniacal bellowing of Jew-D Bawlz anchors the proceedings in a manner that would suggest a female version of Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh or David Thomas (of Pere Ubu fame) in the midst of a straight-up maelstrom.

While the unhinged performances occasionally obscure, some of the more subtle elements inherent in the Strip Mall Seizure sound, if you listen closely, you can pick up some nifty arrangements and a few truly affecting melodies.

Aside from the frenzied energy this band puts across, the accordion is what makes this record for me . Take, for example, the melody that propels “Recession” from being a standard-issue noise-punk jam into something otherworldly or the melody that pops in around the 0:18 mark during “Possessed” that gives the tune that extra push.

While bands of this genre are no stranger to economy, Strip Mall Seizures use the brevity of punk to their advantage, carving out a unique niche that effectively combines Eastern European influences with noisy, sloppy fun that leaves you wanting more. So, if you’re looking for a fun and (deceptively) frivolous time, look no further than Strip Mall Seizures.

–Jonathan Pfeffer


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