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Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2002

HIGH NOTES

The Dismemberment Plan


In addition to the usual semi-coherent tour diary and merchandising gambits, The Dismemberment Plan's Web site contains a list of the 10 greatest songs of all time that, apparently, changes on occasion. Though the idea of such a mutable list is seemingly contradictory, it sums up the aesthetic of the Washington, D.C.-based quartet rather neatly: Art is permanent, feelings are not. What you hear when you listen to one of the Plan's angular punk songs is someone changing his mind at the speed of sound.

News photo

When this story was written, the list contained exclusively soul and R&B hits from the '50s, '60s and '70s, a "safe" selection in that no one will violently disagree with any of the choices. However, the band (or, more exactly, the band's PR person) cited people like Marvin Gaye and D'Angelo as artists they wished to emulate on their new album, "Change," while their last record, "Emergency and I," was affected in part by the music of Mary J. Blige. None of these influences are readily apparent the first time you listen to the Plan's music, but style is not the point.

Travis Morrison displays the same kind of nerdy neediness you hear in most emo-core rock singers, but like the best soul artists, he is indistinguishable from what he does. Current punk and rock groups seem more or less satisfied with writing and performing tunes. The Plan's amalgam of maniacal funk, giddy pop and lyrics that say exactly what they mean pour out of the group in intense waves of inspiration that are barely contained in those quaint little packages we call songs. It's as if Morrison were accelerating blindly to his next thought, afraid it might get away before he arrives.

Thanks to an invitation from local imprint Bad News Records, which released "Change" last fall and plans to re-release the Plan's first three CDs in March, Morrison and Co. quickly slotted in a jaunt through Japan prior to their upcoming Death & Dismemberment Tour with fellow indie iconoclasts Death Cab for Cutie. Unfortunately, Death won't be coming, but the Plan are legendary live performers, and as appropriate for break dancers as they are for mosh monsters. Get ready to fall apart.

The Dismemberment Plan: Feb. 1, 11 p.m., at Bayside Jenny ([06] 6576-5640), Osaka, 3,500 yen; Feb. 4, 7 p.m., at Shibuya Club Quattro, Tokyo, 3,800 yen (Bad News, [03] 3477-2200); Feb. 5, 7 p.m., at Shimokitazawa Shelter ([03] 3466-7430), Tokyo, 2,500 yen; Feb. 8, 11 p.m., at Junk Box ([022] 716-5155), Sendai, 3,500 yen; Feb. 10, 11 p.m., at Hiroshima Club Quattro ([082] 542-2280), 4,000 yen. All ticket prices in advance, 500 yen more at the door.


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