Local Grooves

Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound and Xiu Xiu
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ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND

Ekranoplan

(Tee Pee)

It only takes a quick look over the cover art (a gauche sci-fi trip) and song titles ("Summon the Vardig," "Message by Mistral and Thunderclap") to get the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound's vibe: paint-thinner psych, boys-club rawk. There's nothing subtle about Ekranoplan, but the Assemble Head generally seem likable traditionalists on it, worthy adherents of the nothin'-fancy ethos of heavy rockers such as Blue Cheer.

Producer Tim Green (the Fucking Champs) has previously twiddled the knobs for Comets on Fire, and it's a little hard not hearing the Assemble Head as Comets' younger (and possibly even more stoned) brother. The album's overture, for one, is frankly imitative: a skuzzy riff rides teakettle feedback and a cresting cymbal before the band belly flops into a chugging Stooges riff and throaty vocals. It's a great formula, but the Assemble Head don't have Comets on Fire's experimentalist instincts, making such passages seem, well, formulaic. Ekranoplan works better when the band plays it fast and loose on guitar rave-ups such as "Mosquito Lantern" and snaky biker ballads "Rudy on the Corner" and "Gemini." Toss in an instrumental that sounds like it could be an outtake from the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin III (titled, in all restraint, "The Chocolate Maiden's Misty Summer Morning"), and you've got a fine record: nothin' fancy, but a keeper for the coming summer. (Max Goldberg)

ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND

With Howlin Rain, Citay, and Voice of the Seven Woods

Tues/24, 9 p.m., $8.50–$10

12 Galaxies

2565 Mission, SF

(415) 970-9777

XIU XIU

Remixed and Covered

(5RC/Kill Rock Stars)

The latest from electrotheatrics trio Xiu Xiu — one disc apiece devoted to covers and remixes by kindred warriors in the fight against musical sterility — is a cranium-gorging success, thanks to the artists' finessing of the middle ground between reverence for the originals and eagerness to tweak them into thoughtful new forms. While all nine interpretations on the first disc are successful in this balancing act, the most noteworthy are those least beholden to the familiar Xiu Xiu viral-electro template. Larsen's computer-vocal "Mousey Toy" imagines Laurie Anderson fronting an early Tortoise record. Devendra Banhart takes "Support Our Troops" on a spin in his interplanetary doo-wop time machine.

The remix disc brims with equally intriguing constructions. Gold Chains' thumping mix of "Hello from Eau Claire" makes over vocalist Caralee McElroy into the queen of Alienated Divaland, and Warbucks's overhaul of "Suha" is a stunning piano-driven electropop confessional evoking Talk Talk's finest moments. If that's not ear-pricking enough, consider the disc's closer: To Live and Shave in LA filter the entirety of Xiu Xiu's The Air Force album into a four-minute dreamscape that bristles and glows in a proper brain-scrubbing tribute to the band. (Todd Lavoie)

XIU XIU

Sun/22–Mon/23, 8 p.m., $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455

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