When Al Burian and Dave Laney disbanded Milemarker several years ago, they left a curious legacy. With a lineup that went from three to five and back again whenever the wind changed, the band became notorious for never doing the same thing twice. Though fundamentally a hardcore punk band, Milemarker was liberal with the tape loops and samples and got into so-called dance punk before Brooklyn took out a patent on it. Moreover, their concerts stressed theatrical elements that had nothing to do with their recorded work.
Having moved from Chapel Hill, N.C., to Chicago sometime before Milemarker called it quits, Burian and Laney could have easily explored their experimental side more fully, given the Windy City's reputation as the melting pot of indie music. However, their new band, Challenger, is a return to basics, specifically, the kind of spiraling, dense punk that is associated with Washington D.C.'s Dischord label. Their debut, "Give People What They Want in Lethal Doses," clarifies the themes (mostly, consumerism as a dead-end religion) that were murky with Milemarker by utilizing astringent guitar lines, artless but intense vocal harmonies, and arrangements that stress velocity. The album builds to a crescendo as each song reaches for its own climax. The challenge, of course, will be to reproduce the CD's raw excitement in concert. Milemarker sometimes finished off their concerts by setting fire to the drum set; Challenger doesn't even need a match.
Challenger: May 25, 30, 7 p.m., Shibuya O'Nest, Tokyo (03) 3362-4420; May 26, 7 p.m., Jusan Fandago, Osaka (06) 6308-1621; May 27, 7 p.m., Sakae Tightrope, Nagoya (052) 242-8557; May 28, 7 p.m., Whoopees, Kyoto (075) 551-2331; May 29, 6:30 p.m., Koiwa Em-seven, Tokyo (03) 5622-3520. 2,500 yen advance, 3,000 yen at the door (except Em-seven, 2,800 yen).