Two months ago, riding home to Champaign from a gig in Houston, Poster Children bassist Rose Marshack saw her first dead guy. “Cars were parking everywhere,” she writes in the band’s on-line tour diary. “There were people running up and down the highway with cellular phones….On my left, crashed into the side wall of the highway, was an overturned car, looking like an upside-down cockroach–and laying on the ground in front of it, sticking out the window, was the body of a young man….His arms were outstretched, his head was sort of tilted with his chin on the ground, and his eyebrows were up, and there was a pool of blood under his head.” There but for the grace of God goes the indie rocker: driving back and forth across the continent six months out of the year isn’t a particularly safe way to make a living. But the Poster Children have been slogging it out for over a decade now, eating on $10 a day and sleeping four to a motel room. Their major-label days would seem to be behind them, none of their three releases on Sire set the world aflame, and their latest album, New World Record (Spinart), was self-recorded in a basement. Yet shaking off the golden handcuffs has done them a world of good: the new album contains some of the funkiest, most jubilant music they’ve ever made. Drummer Howie Kantoff lays down some deep dark tom-tom on the opening cut, “Accident Waiting to Happen,” with the band’s usual welter of guitar noise building to a satisfying climax. “Time to Kill” is equally calculated to fill the dance floor, with Marshack and guitarist Rick Valentin delivering the booty-shaking chorus in octaves, and “Mr. Goodnight” grafts some fractured guitar riffage onto a warped salsa beat. At its best New World Record is a striking left turn from a band that’s produced more than its share of mediocre alternapop–but when you’ve been on the road as long as these guys, nothing’s more life affirming than a well-timed detour. Saturday, 9 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700. J.R. JONES
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim.