Icy Demons

Pub date November 18, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW There’s liberatory potential in choosing a pseudonym, but the members of Chicago-area septet Icy Demons — Blue Hawaii, Pow Pow, Il-Cativo, Smart Cousin, Yo! Hannan, Monsieur Jeri, and the Diminisher — are probably just goofballs. Icy Demons are the sort of band whose surface weirdness is accompanied by both pop smarts and something fundamentally warped. What makes this trickier: their three albums, culminating in last year’s Miami Ice (Obey Your Brain), have inched toward accessibility while also housing some of the group’s most fully realized songs. While it’s tempting to say that Icy Demons are basically a pop combo that have clawed their way out of the slightly hazy, motorik groove of 2006’s Tears of a Clone (Eastern Developments) and 2003’s Fight Back! (Cloud Recordings), why not say that the inverse is true, that they’re a basically experimental ensemble using pop structure to vehiculate some of their best ideas?

However you choose to read them, Icy Demons are part of an emerging scene with unexpected roots and strange allegiances, centered on the Obey Your Brain label: core member Pow Pow plays drums for hokey Philly alt-bros Man Man, and the Diminisher and Blue Hawaii were involved in Bablicon, the Elephant 6–affiliated improv trio. But Icy Demons have less to do with those bands’ well-established aesthetics than with a natively skewed sense of tunefulness and music that seems to disappear between reference points. Miami Ice‘s "Spywatchers" hovers in the interzone between spy movie music and spacey post-rock, and the title track sounds like Brian Eno took the Paper Rad crew to Florida for a vacation of self-discovery. As for the rest of the transcript of what Icy Demons are up to, intuition suggests they will only reveal it a peek at a time.

ICY DEMONS With Yeasayer. Sat/22, 9 p.m., $15. Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, SF. (415) 474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com