Review ·

What happens when '90s hardcore kids grow up? Apparently they
discover that beer tastes good, that embarrassing tattoos won't just
rub off and that complexity doesn't equate to better songwriting. And,
most significantly, they discover dance music. Refreshingly, many
members of old hardcore bands have formed new bands, subsequently
stripping down their sound to simpler songs and adding a danceable
beat. Overwhelmingly, the main referent for these bands is the music
produced in the late '70 and early '80s, whether it be new wave, no
wave, electro, post-punk, or a combination thereof. Bands such as the
Faint, Radio 4, and Outhud, while wearing their influences on their
sleeve, have introduced the welcome incorporation of dance music back
into underground American music.


The San Francisco trio Numbers, formed by drummer and vocalist Indra
Dunis in 2000, has contributed equally to this trend. Two members of
the band, guitarist Dave Broekema and keyboardist Eric Landmark, were
in mid-'90s spazzcore band Xerobot in their native Wisconsin before
moving to the Bay Area in 1999. The band's latest offering, an EP
titled Ee-Uh! on the predictable Troubleman Unlimited label, contains six short, energetic bursts of spastic punk disco.

Numbers has drawn comparisons to Devo and labelmates Erase Eratta,
and are said to be direct descendents of Gang of Four. But Numbers most
resemble fellow San Franciscans Units, who were an integral part of
that city's art-punk scene in the late '70s. Their party vibe,
skronk-flavored rhythms, shouted vocals and silly songs seem to almost
be re-incarnated in Numbers' sound. Throughout Ee-Uh!,
Landmark's minimoog blips, chrips, and farts and Dunis' simple yet
effective beats serve up the dance-floor fever, but it's Broekema's
Contortions-esque guitar that sets the band apart, at least subtly,
from their predecessors.

The first three tracks on Ee-Uh! are the band's newest
recordings; the second three are live. The EP begins with "Insomnia," a
breathless minute-and-a-half of nervous frenzy. As Dunis yells the
title over and over from behind the drum kit, the boys chant, "I'm at
home/ And alone/ Wide awake/ It's very late." The song seems to be a
product of an uncomfortable night spent tossing and turning, and could
become the perfect soundtrack for such an experience. Two lesser tracks
follow; a forgettable instrumental and "At the Mall," a disco punk
anthem that unfortunately does nothing to further the material on their
first album, 2002's Numbers Life.

The EP's second half consists of songs recorded at a show described
in the liner notes. The story tells of an "eviction party" held in SF's
Mission District in March of 2002, where the drunken partygoers took to
the warehouse walls with hammers. It does an effective job of setting
the stage for the show: a hot room during a hot scene, sweaty kids
dancing and cherishing the music being played by their friends. The
recording is decidedly lo-fi, but with the inclusion of the description
of the chaotic night, it seems fitting. As "We Like Having These
Things," a crowd favorite from the band's first album, closes out this
very brief EP. If you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself at the
show that night, and somehow this dirty disco makes a lot more sense.

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