Home Read Classic Album Review: The Icarus Line | Penance Soiree

Classic Album Review: The Icarus Line | Penance Soiree

The L.A. post-punk provocateurs unleash a feral, fearsome sophomore achievement.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Most rock bands are nothing but a bunch of spoiled brats. Not L.A. post-punk provocateurs The Icarus Line.

These white-trash troublemakers are the real, dangerous deal: Five guys you shouldn’t leave alone with your wallet, your TV set and certainly not your sister. And their blistering, unconventional sophomore CD Penance Soiree is the sort of feral, fearsome achievement that makes the back of your neck tingle, gets your palms itchy and convinces you rock ’n’ roll can still be rescued from the bean-counters and buttheads.

How do we love and fear them? Let us count the ways. Part of it is way they weld the primal guitar-rock nihilism of The Stooges to the feedback-worshipping art-punk of Sonic Youth — with dashes of Black Flag’s complex intensity and Suicide’s bleak synthcore tossed in for the hell of it. Part of it is the way singer Joe Cardamone howls, snarls, spits and moans, channeling the shamanic power of Iggy and Nick Cave while sounding like a cross between Marilyn Manson, Perry Farrell and a Hollywood serial killer.

Part of it is the way ferocious and confrontational tracks like Spit On It, Kiss Like Lizards and Virgin Velcro get all up in your face and keep you off-balance, ducking and weaving rhythmically as the searing electro-shock guitars flail and thrash about maniacally. And part of it is the way they smashed into a Hard Rock Café display case to “liberate” Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Strat during a South By Southwest showcase a couple of years ago.

But mainly, we should worship these guys for their willful defiance — in a medium that has become as dangerous as a kids’ birthday party, The Icarus Line seem determined to cross every single line they encounter. Last time I checked, that’s what rock is supposed to do.