Black Midi Credit: Dan Kendall

London quartet Black Midi have been getting lots of good press, including an ecstatic Pitchfork review of their 2019 debut, Schlagenheim (Rough Trade). It’s not hard to see why: the band deftly reference the spiky, difficult, complicated music of edgy rock geniuses such as Wire, Sonic Youth, and King Crimson without sounding directly derivative of any of them. The vocals of singer-guitarist Geordie Greep are as itchily adenoidal as those of the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano as he wails semi-articulate lyrics that occasionally disintegrate—such as on “Ducter,” where he declares, “It will never break me,” then spits out a series of yodeling chipmunk yips. Drummer Morgan Simpson is a prog monster who provides spastic blasts of lurching math-rock rhythms while Greep and fellow guitarist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin squall and jerk, creating a sound that lies somewhere between the Talking Heads and thrash metal. Black Midi’s songs are clever and varied: “953” flips between metal blare and meditative slow sections, like some of Nirvana’s most iconic tracks. The lengthy “Western” pulses around the liquid bass line of Cameron Picton, with a tempo that slows down and speeds up to accommodate a tasty dance-groove break and what sounds like a banjo section. Though the “next big thing” hype surrounding Black Midi is perhaps a bit much for the band to live up to at this point in their career, these young musicians are very talented, and in a short time they’ve already become famous for their energetic, razor-tight live shows.   v