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Reviews

Time Out New York / Issue 536: January 5–11, 2006
Album review

The Heroine Sheiks
Out of Aferica (Reptilian)

This local quintet's sound, a lurching, taunting mass of rock instrumentation, is nothing if not ugly. Similarly, the band's jarring live shows can resemble mere spectacles, as frontman Shannon Selberg—pencil mustache either grown or Sharpied on—paws and prowls the stage, floor and audience. But appearances are deceiving; the above ugliness cloaks the even uglier lyrics that have made Selberg an underground-rock Neil LaBute. Since the late '80s, when his band Cows debuted in Minneapolis, Selberg has been perhaps America's best unknown songwriter. (Full disclosure: I was employed by Cows' label until 1996.)

The Sheiks' third album finds Selberg in piercingly virulent form; he slips through characters and vantage points, as on Out of Aferica's two best songs, "Cock Asia" (think less anatomy and more a box on your census form) and "Jaws of Life." The former's puerile title renders it difficult to discern who is delivering—and how listeners should be receiving—lyrics such as, "You had your fun guzzling freedom / Now you want your kids to sip / Hey, it's a free nation—dummy, Nazi and crip / Christ, even Jesus is hip here." The latter track, however, couldn't be less vague, positing Selberg as a loathsome Everyman: "I felt the womb reject me / I felt cold hands collect me / I cried, 'Oh God, protect me! / Oh Nature, please select me!'" The Sheiks' current lineup resembles Cows at their nimble, unruly best, making this pointedly untrendy band the noise of choice for thinking misanthropes everywhere.—Mike Wolf


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