In the '90s, the phrase "sounds like Sonic Youth" was almost as ubiquitous as "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Shameless Nirvana rip-offs obscured their thievery by cutting out the middleman and claiming the Cobain-idolized Sonic Youth as an influence in interviews. With the demise of grunge, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore yielded to Gang of Four and Rites of Spring as the references on the résumés of buzz bands.
But Sonic Youth doppelgängers still run rampant in the underground, where every band that creates onstage feedback cites the masters. The omnipresent name-checking blurs the line between true experimentalists and cacophonous frauds, but the Texas-based trio Ume truly deserves the "sounds like Sonic Youth" designation. Not only does its debut disc, Urgent Sea, resemble raw early Sonic Youth, on which the group used garage-punk grease to create inscrutable splatter paintings, but also its coed vocalists (Lauren and Eric Larson) are married, which aids compositional comparisons. Lauren plays volcanic guitar, with vocals that range from demure to demonic. Eric and drummer Jeff Barrera craft the robust rhythmic foundation for Ume's ambitious aural architecture.