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Music Review: Pegasuses-XL – Electro Agitators

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According to the MySpace page of Pegasuses-XL, they get their fair share of negative press. One unlucky critic, who undoubtedly received the same press release I did, miscalculated on a detail that was hardly clear to begin with and was singled out for her negative review of the band’s Electro Agitators.

I decided, as I slid Electro Agitators into my player, that I was going to break with tradition and that “proper research” was going to be near the top of my list in constructing my own review of this record. And as the hectic, wacky sounds began to flood my speakers with the brand of tomfoolery concocted by this band of “local smartasses,” I set out to Google down some hard facts lest I be set upon by a mob of synth punks in hoodies.

With the words “go beyond the press release” echoing in my head and the portly electro-blast of “Run the Gauntlet” shooting out of my speakers like sparks at the electrocution of a mentally-challenged convict in Texas, I made my way through the band’s MySpace page and headed over to Ernest Jenning Record Co., the group’s label.

Electro Agitators is an assembly of the group’s first three self-released EPs: The Midnight Aquarium, XL, and the aptly titled Third EP.

“$600 Man” sounds a lot like a big tent revival with an organ bleating and misshapen vocals trying to convert you to whatever backwater creed these young punks practice. It almost certainly involves witchcraft and caffeine if the melodic magic drifting into my eardrums is any indication.

Indeed, Mark Dale, Jeff Tobias, and Joel Hatstat have created a jumble of epic proportions with the music on these three EPs. New band member Jeff Rosenstock is not featured on this compilation, for the record, despite his wishes that he was.

“Workin’ For the Weekend” pounds with a simmer of guitars, keyboards, and distorted background vocals that sound like a bunny on steroids. Somehow, though, the boys make it all fly and the song’s over-three-minute guitar pile-up kicks ass.

With only one Jeff and a two-keyboard setup, Electro Agitators contains more than its fair share of enlightening moments. The band meshes the get-up-and-go and feverish growl of the Beastie Boys with nods to art rock and New Wave greats like Devo and Talking Heads. At times magnificently untidy and at other times startlingly moving, this little run down memory lane is well worth a scoop or two.

Hip-hop and hardcore come together for a grand old time on “Major in Business/Minor in Art,” a sweet and sweaty blend that rips through genres like someone who’s run out of metaphors. And the rap spectacle of “Theme to Athfest” is just fucking cool as the band tries to explain what they’re about and invites the listener on a camping trip.

Without question, Pegasuses-XL is in the business of making music that requires attention and an open mind. This is creative shit, brimming with decibels and oft-abrasive segments. The process is ultimately satisfying, though, and Electro Agitators should serve as a nice introduction to a band that now includes one Jeff Rosenstock and possibly even an extra keyboard or two.

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About Jordan Richardson