By: Faetra Petillo
There once was a time long, long ago when creating rock 'n roll was a religious experience. It was a time when music was art, album contracts didn’t come with product endorsements, and “concerts” didn’t require a seven-figure budget for special effects. It was the time of free love, free society, fearless expression, Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors, The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones. Most importantly, it was a time when good music required one simple quality: honesty.
Here in the digital age, it’s hard to come across bands that strive for that authenticity. By the time rock gets through the agents, the record companies and the sound studios, it’s at best a watered down version of what the artist intended, if they intended anything at all. But every once in awhile one stumbles across a band that sounds raw and open and unpackaged, and it’s impossible not to enjoy the breath of fresh air they provide. Brooklyn-based indie band Madam Robot and the Lust Brigade is definitely one of those bands.
Madame Robot manages to capture the essence of psychedelic rock and mix it up with their own trans-funk-punk touch to create something that transcends any genre or time period; though their message of “anti-mind control” certainly feels like it has its place in a country still reeling from the decline and fall of truth that was the Bush era. Led by Oweinama Bin, the band has been taking Brooklyn by storm since 2004, putting on shows everywhere from Union Pool to dive sensation Rocky’s Rock Star Bar to an open-air gathering in McCarren Park. The best part about Madame Robot is that this message isn’t force fed through transparent lyrics and mindless repetition. but rather understood by closing your eyes and letting the chaos take over. What might seem like a consistent beat and groove to a song will be thrown on its head by a sudden guitar riff or a switch in vocals or tempo. There’s an urgency to their music that immediately grabs attention and evokes feeling.
That’s not to say that their songs are all a battle cry of a similar sound. Their LP features an impressive list of tracks so diverse it seems they aren’t even created by the same people. Songs like “Someone’s in the Kitchen” are fast in tempo, heavy with electronica and call for some serious head-banging kind of dancing, while other tunes such as “The Village” bring it down a notch to a mellow place best enjoyed while swaying gently back and forth. All the track have a quality of sound some will dismiss as being too rough, but in fact is an intentional way of presenting music, the way that it was meant to be heard: raw and unfiltered containing as much flaw as it has moments of perfection. Madame Robot and the Lust Brigade are the seldom few out there who still believe that music is not about a sound, it’s about an experience.