Detroit-based X! Records often adds proud little phrases to descriptions of its releases. "Includes photocopied and stapled sleeve," or "Each copy has its own individual message written on the CD." With limited pressings, there's leeway for DIY. But homespun, person-to-person touches like this are also key to the music X! puts out. Heroes & Villains are part of that. Some songs on Play Themes from the Dark Pink Circus, the trio's debut, sound fully formed. "Strawman (In the Woodchipper)" works the dynamic between its acoustic strum and sludgy bass line to great effect, and the hazy psychedelia of "Reoccuring Dream" fits with its dream journal lyrics and cascading oohs and ahs. But there are also plenty of upended parts the clanging surf guitar in "Lovely Guns," the promising but still unfinished ideas in "Song A" and brief closer "Luniatus Runco," the two live tracks that mess around with spooky noise and more psych crockery. That Dark Pink Circus arrives still warm from its birth, flaws and all, is part the guiding principle for Heroes and, certainly, X! Records. What you hear is what you get, but there's also the sense that it might be totally different next time. Individuality is mercurial.
Dec. 15 at Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman, Detroit; 313-737-6606. As part of an X! Records showcase with Terrible Twos, Tyvek, the Frustrations and more.
Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.