We really don't like referring to Mahjongg as an "art-punk" band — seeing that the categorization is becoming vaguer by the minute — but that's exactly how these Missouri-bred rockers roll. At least musically. They're sorta like hippies otherwise: They prefer to be called a collective and say things like "The body of human knowledge is our most prized asset, and the harmonic proportions of music are universal in other fields of endeavor." They're also inspired by "primal forces of other cultures" — which probably explains the somewhat left-field comparisons to Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.
But Mahjongg's many members now live in Chicago, and their new album, Kontpab, feeds on a predominantly midwestern vibe. These days, they sound like a mix of groove merchants LCD Soundsystem and your favorite art-punk band (like, say, Liars or !!!). New tunes like "Tell the Police the Truth" and "Problems" are sufficiently artsy, with heavy beats, laser blips, and a general casualness that suggests that Mahjongg may very well take over indie hipsters' coveted New Favorite Band slot before April. Then again, like many Pitchfork-approved groups, Mahjongg can be pretty obnoxious — fixating on repetitive grooves that are as dismally dark as they are needlessly spaced out. Judge for yourself where they fall, when they come to town this week.