Xiu Xiu / (r)
Xiu Xiu / (r)
Long-time collaborators and experimentalists Xiu Xiu and (r) have partnered up to play ZZ Top covers for a new split 7” single release through Polyvinyl.
For the avant-garde followers of California’s Xiu Xiu and (r), the moniker of Italian-born musician Fabrizio Palumbo, the four-by-four guitar euphemisms of ZZ Top may never register on the radar as a modernist’s canonical listen.
Rock ’n’ rollers ZZ Top peaked at the height of MTV, when their 1983 album Eliminator unlocked the formula to success en masse. Fast Cars + Men = Party Time with the Ladies. While the famously bearded trio carve a four-decade-long career revelling in the trope of masculinity, contemporary artists such as Xiu Xiu and (r) have honed their craft around shattering such allegories of gender and sexuality. Perhaps that’s why it feels like such a guilty pleasure to hear them belt out ZZ Top’s biggest hits, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimme All Your Lovin.” But hey, you can’t deny a banger and the rolling riffs are as much fun to listen to in their original form as they are as covers from Xiu Xiu and (r).
Swapping the acoustic rock drums of ZZ Top, both sides are swamped instead with dank electronic bass beats: Xiu Xiu opting for a relentless drum and bass dance rhythm that stays true to the upbeat swagger of the ZZ Top recording, while (r) goes minimalist, turning it downtempo to indulge in the lyrics, executed with the uneasy clangs of kraut industrialism and the sinister twists of Palumbo’s near-spoken delivery.
Released through Polyvinyl, the cover project was born out of a performance for AV Club, and compiled as a playful quip between friends (Palumbo proposed Xiu Xiu do ZZ Top and for (r) to be ZZ Bottom for the split vinyl single). Sublimely produced and a fun foray into the mainstream for both artists, the tracks are testament that it’s hard to fault catchy songwriting.
Xiu Xiu Links
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: XIU XIU / (r) – XIU XIU / (r)