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The Beatings

The Beatings have been lumped loosely into the rock renaissance of the past few years led by the likes of The Hives and The Strokes, but that's mostly just because they too play rock and roll with visceral energy and abandon. They actually have a lot more in common with the frenetic late '80s art-rock innovations of The Pixies, Superchunk, and especially Hüsker Dü. It's the group's ragged and reckless punk-power-pop songs that earn them this last comparison, bombastic, noise-driven pieces featuring satisfyingly larynx-tearing male vocals that just barely cling to the bones of a melody.

But that's only half the story, because on their outstanding 2001 debut album Italiano, The Beatings mix up those kinds of songs with a variety of other dark musical experiments. You get some spacey ambient interludes, some somber dirges that suggest the sad side of new wave, and some picture-perfect ramshackle pop of the Guided by Voices school. Detractors have suggested the band tries for an amalgam of recent signature "alternative" music styles, but such statements ignore the fact that every song the band does has a dynamic and distinctively Beatings feel. The truth is that this is a group well versed in rock and roll history, which has its own unique story of the present to tell. This means that they can go from drivingly fuzzy guitars and spasmodic screams of pain to glockenspiel and lush female vocals without missing a beat.

Initially ignored in their native Boston, The Beatings first found an audience in New York City, which encouraged them to put out their first release, a noisy, frantic five-song EP entitled 6 Hz, in 2001. Receiving a positive response to that, the band developed and diversified their sound, leading to Italiano. That album is a must for all fans of noisy, exciting, experimentally inclined indie rock.

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