These noise-rockers from the Bay Area started making waves throughout the underground back in the late '90s, when the band would show up at DIY basement shows and play furious, eight-minute sets full of flashing lights and insane dance moves. Since then, xbxrx has racked up some serious accolades: Not only has it released jams via Kill Rock Stars' sister label, 5 Rue Christine, it recorded with indie-demigods Steve Albini and Ian MacKaye. The band has also snagged Flying Luttenbachers mastermind Weasel Walter for the drummer's chair.
Xbxrx's sound has matured accordingly; the new album, Wars, introduces melody to the band's usual recipe of noise and speed. Of course, tracks like "Here to Ruin the Party" and "Center Where Sight" -- the latter of which actually extends beyond the four-minute mark -- won't fool a Shins fan into thinking he's hearing some unreleased James Mercer nugget. But the new material does suggest that the band has found a use for semiconventional song structures -- even if it's just for the pleasure felt in subverting them.