Xiu Xiu

With Devendra Banhart. Monday, July 7, at the Lime Spider in Akron.

American Fleadh, featuring Black 47, the Saw Doctors, Hothouse Flowers, and Eileen Ivers Tower City Amphitheater, 351 Canal Road, the Flats 7 p.m. Thursday, June 26, $25-$35, 216-241-5555
In early 2002, Northern California's Xiu Xiu released one of the most ridiculously challenging and morosely honest pieces of avant-garde indie electronic pop to date, borrowing elements of British post-punk, noisy electronic techno, and -- most intriguingly -- the Gamelan Orchestra. Knife Play was hailed by some and cast aside by even more for its histrionics and nonsensical wordplay -- many considered picking it up simply for its influences, which are methodically deconstructed and reworked into a darkly cohesive and chaotic wall of beats, rhythm, static, and sound. Still, most people had a hard time getting past singer Jamie Stewart's constant vocal freak-outs, which sounded like Suicide's Alan Vega getting molested by Ian Curtis.

Xiu Xiu has followed up Knife Play with A Promise, an equally challenging and beautiful piece of work. Once again borrowing from the aforementioned influences (even going so far as titling a song "Ian Curtis Wishlist"), the band now favors a more subtle approach and sparse instrumentation. The extremely honest lyrics and abstract arrangements still root out more sensitive ears: This is not for everyone. But if you have a wild streak, an open ear, or a voyeuristic fixation on the darker parts of the human psyche, Xiu Xiu might be the band you never thought you needed to hear.

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