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The Mae Shi: Punk With A Bubblegum Soul

The Mae Shi's members have long prided themselves on taking music to extremes; they even reportedly played a record-breaking 18 live performances at the four-day SXSW music conference earlier this year. Their work is typically marked by an obsessive urge to create and destroy: They cram many catchy riffs into a single, painfully short song, but then also add carefully timed choral screams on top of the guitar-strewn snippets, turning the mess into a frantic, joyous post-punk collage. The mental energy required in order to parse the songs' complex language is topped only by The Mae Shi's enthusiasm and ambition.

The centerpiece of the epic, Bible-inspired album HLLLYH, "Run to Your Grave" displays impressive amounts of pop polish without losing the effervescence that keeps The Mae Shi sounding like no one else. The song builds a junkyard pile of blips and bleeps, led by an omnichord (a keyboard/drum-box hybrid the band purchased from Goodwill), into a colossal pop song, with a multitude of voices cheerfully singing, "You've got to tear / Burn / Soil the flesh / God will do the rest!" on top of a supremely catchy melody. Who knew that an L.A. punk band so bent on sonic destruction could also have a bubblegum soul?

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Kathryn Yu
By day, Kathryn Yu is an Interaction Designer working for a marketing firm in New York City, toiling away at Web sites. By night, she's a freelance photographer and live-music addict. Her photography has appeared in publications like Pitchfork, Rollingstone.com, Thrillist, Gothamist, and more. She often forgets to blog at kathrynyu.com, and is also making a movie.