Tonight: Masshysteri (Early Show) at the Mink

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America's long love affair with all things garage and punk from the frozen, liberal land of Sweden has gone unabated for years, even replacing our tongue-wagging brouhaha for fresh British "iconoclasts" soon to be collecting dust in used bins. Masshysteri proves that such Scandinavian fetishes are worthwhile.

Rising from the ashes of bands like International Noise Conspiracy, in which dead-on Noam Chomsky agit-prop and skinny-ass white-boy whiplash funk melded seamlessly into sly nouveau punk, and the superb stripped-down 1977 attack of the Vicious, Masshysteri may not sing a single syllable in English, but nobody seems to care. Like any transcendent punk with one foot in the lionized past, its rough, dramatic melodies and surefire beats make the dancefloor pogo-ready.

Sure, Masshysteri's sound somewhat echoes the same breakneck, speed-pop, banged-up mold of the Carbonas, Hex Dispensers, and The Busy Signals, but there is something artier, haunting and penetrating lurking under all the blitzkrieg craft as well. Some might hear heavy traces of Dangerhouse-era X on tracks like "Paranoid" and "Tvivel", with their hectic, interwoven, dueling-gender vocals.

There is even a bit of the Bats in "Hatkarlek" and "Liv och Dod," a residual electric folk foundation, though the power of the band's approach both pummels and punctures. For those willing to endure a chewy mouthful of Swedish verbs, this promises to make your backbone bounce and twitch.

With Secret Prostitutes and Teenage Kicks (7" release), 7 p.m. tonight at the Mink, 3718 Main, 713-522-9985 or www.minkonmain.com.


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