by Mitch Myers
Number One Cup is an impressive four-piece guitar/alternative/pop band from Chicago, Illinois that has been around since 1993. While comparisons to contemporary groups such as Pavement, Guided By Voices and the Flaming Lips will put you somewhat in the ballpark, Number One Cup has achieved a far more distinctive identity on its latest (fourth) CD. With a strong intellectual underpinning attached to its aggressive, two-guitar, bass and drums aesthetic, the Cup plays straightforward rock with quirky pop twists. Number One Cup consistently stands out from the indie-rock pack with three distinctive vocalists and extremely focused, melodic songwriting. Drummer Michael Lenzi's voice often sounds uncannily like Robert Smith of the Cure and the band occasionally uses strange additional instrumentation including noise generators and treated pianos. While the group boasts a severe art-punk sensibility, they also infuse a vast, cinematic scope to tuneful little songs that rarely exceed the four-minute mark. Catchy compositions such as "Ice Melts Around My Battery" are sure to satisfy all you Pavement fans and "Remote Control" is a pseudo-commercial pop tune with a "doo-doo-doo" chorus that refuses to quit. This band is far too sharp to be dismissed as just another indie-rock knockoff and way too tough to be written off as a simple pop group. Songs like "The Low Sparks" display a thoroughly methodical rock-attack that becomes almost urgent in its emotive power. People People Why Are We Fighting is simple proof that there's much more going on in Chicago than critically-acclaimed bands like Tortoise and Jesus Lizard.