The Icarus Line

Penance Soiree

Out now on V2

Young Hollywood hellions the Icarus Line have already emblazoned their name into music-world consciousness. Guitarist Aaron North is co-owner of the label/website Buddyhead, ground zero for skate-punk-styled pranks, among other things. Not content to be outdone by their buddies, the Icarus boys have done their share of punking the industry, from vandalizing the Strokes' tour bus to breaking into Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar case at SXSW. But although such delinquent activities add to Icarus' infamy, it's the band's musical output that's really helped them make a name for themselves. And with the release of their second album, Penance Soiree, the Icarus Line have created what's already, by a football-field-sized long shot, one of the best albums of the year.

On a visceral level, Soiree sounds dangerous. And it's not just because the Icarus Line fraternize with a seedy underground of influences--everything from Green River to the Birthday Party to Spacemen 3. It's the sticky delivery of frontman Joe Cardamone, a black widow of seething, blue-balled frustrations cobwebbed in noisy feedback, as he drawls narratives mixing metaphors of chemical and physical desire. When Cardamone whines, "Why can't I get some for free?" in "Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers," you want to slither into his lair and give up whatever he's demanding. The vocals are backed by a rhythm section that pounds out cement blocks of bass/beats, and malicious guitar riffs that swerve aggressively around the frontman. With his manic chameleon-like changes, from Iggy Pop's crimson-eyed lust to Jason Pierce's blissed-out hovercraft harmonies to early Chris Cornell's insistent bellows, Cardamone is a poisoned dart of confusion, ready to infect everyone within range. This is rock 'n' roll at its purest, ugliest best, an addictive act offering a powerful new fix at every turn.