Record Review 

If, as the adage goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, is explicit homage an equally slobbering, back-alley blowjob? Ask New York's aggro-electro outfit A.R.E. Weapons, self-appointed heir of Lower East Side sleaze. And considering the group's deranged art-school antics, if you ask right, you might get a demonstration, not just an answer.

From the same conceptual gallery spaces as Fischerspooner and Andrew W.K., A.R.E. Weapons puts on meticulously disheveled displays that draw from spastic hip-hop, soiled synth-pop and dusted dancehall; but it's more reinterpretation than reinvention. It's the aural equivalent of ripped rock T-shirts as haute couture, taken to the next distressed-leather level. To a tinny, pecking drumbeat, bludgeoning guitars and serrated keyboards, A.R.E. Weapons makes like a Bowery Beastie Boys, careening through static with switchblades drawn. Too bad their tongues aren't as sharp.

A.R.E. Weapons cops a lot of feels. "Fuck You Pay Me" nicks lyrical elements from Lou Reed's "Walk on The Wild Side." Despite several years of No Wave/L.E.S. NYC appreciation, never before has there existed such a bald-faced tribute to Suicide as "Street Gang," which interpolates Alan Vega's beatnik bob. As well, Jim Carroll's jitters get nods. Oh, and "Hey World" would have made a good INXS number.

But A.R.E. Weapons isn't eulogizing or commiserating, it's romanticized hyper-realism. This isn't hustle as hassle, but rather manifesto. It registers as hypnotic, but just doesn't resonate as honest. Violent and visceral, sure, but A.R.E. Weapons manage to blow their load fairly quickly.

A.R.E. Weapons plays the Echo Lounge Mon., June 30. $8.


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