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Battles

The group's genre-defying music

Which brings us to "Atlas."

"Atlas" is the lead single off Mirrored, Battles' debut full-length, released last month to already hyperbolic and much-deserved acclaim. "Atlas" is hilariously terrifying. "My favorite interpretation is ‘a fascist Smurf society,'" Stanier says; indeed, there's a distinct march-of-the-munchkins lilt to its robotically loping beat, the bleeping guitars and keyboards jostling along in sharp staccato, as Braxton, his voice horrifically distorted and pitched skyward into a cyborg chipmunk whine, cheerfully sings...something. Some cyborg chipmunk call to arms. It's disturbing. Though it scans as gibberish, there are in fact actual words, actual lyrics involved, which Braxton will not reveal, even to the folks in the front row he's noticed lately intently studying his mouth as he sings them. (Knock it off.)

The Battles dudes love "Atlas." It's their anthem, their gateway drug, their weapon for "luring more people into your weird world, but with the most conventional ways," Konopka explains. "If a sorority girl can get off on ‘Atlas,' and then come to a show and hear a song like ‘TIJ,' that's fuckin' great."

Tyondai Braxton (far right) leads a munchkin revolution.
Willie Davis/Veras
Tyondai Braxton (far right) leads a munchkin revolution.

What's really fuckin' great is that Battles considers "Atlas" conventional — this is their pop concession, when in fact Mirrored's "TIJ," though frenzied and discordant, is only slightly more disconcerting than the alleged pop hit that will trick sorority girls into hearing it. "In some bizarre way it is a pop song," Williams says of "Atlas."

"Being able to access this, like, anthem, in the middle of our craziness is actually really kinda cool for our set. It's a nice place to go." Another flag successfully planted.

Battles performs Saturday, June 23, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer, 713-526-6551. For tickets, visit pegstar.net. Ponytail and Sharks & Sailors also perform.

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