With the right pick-ups (and Hipster Runoff placement), Brooklyn's TEEN could be equally loved and loathed. The Brooklyn-based band consists of four very cute girls who play messily — the musical equivalent of unkempt beauty. They remind me of Shaggs crossed with the Carrie Nations (after the principal hit them up with a couple of caps of acid), pumping out psychedelia caked in reverb and effects. Instead of being pretty at its core (a la shoegaze) TEEN's music is sometimes flat, sometimes meandering and often lacking in choruses and harmonies. Too structured to be deemed atmospheric and too reliant on heavy texture to be mistaken for pop, TEEN's music would infuriate if it didn't routinely soothe. But I predict that a bunch of girls not acting musically ladylike (in often the gentlest way possible) will piss people off anyway. Good.
They played selections from their debut album, In Limbo (out this week on Carpark), at New York's labyrinthine hot spot (or whatever it is) Le Baron last night, giving the wall-to-wall red a run for its money by coating the room with their sound. Lead singer Kristina Lieberson was as approachable holding her guitar as a girl holding a beer at a house party (to be fair Le Baron has no stage — they were set up on the main floor). However, she refused to identify herself when introducing the band (she called herself "Anonymous" and then "Teeny," a moniker I've seen in pieces about the band). The band sounded very much as it does on In Limbo — surprisingly, TEEN could create the depth Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom helped craft for them by producing and mixing the album. The only thing that stuck out as a major departure was Lieberson's voice, which is much more acrobatic in person. It was one hidden layer of beauty that she couldn't help but reveal. Great.
[Photo credit: Shawn Brackbill]