Psychotic Reaction

With a mind-boggling debut album, the Lowdown proves how to love pop music -- to death

After seeing the Lowdown live, Revolver IImight come as a surprise: Amidst all the madness reside tightly arranged compositions with honest-to-goodness hooks. Songs like "Extraspecial Existential" and "Saved by God" are downright catchy, although not the sort of thing you could sing in an elevator. The title of the song "Absurd Reaction" hints at just the sort of relationship the Lowdown has with pop music.

"I feel [our music is] reactionary," says Harmonson. "I usually get inspired when I'm reacting to something. I feel confident when I know I am making an ass out of myself or doing something that seems totally ridiculous. But it's a reaction to everything I love, too. I don't just listen to noise music."

The band members offer a litany of musical genre-benders as influences, from well-known artists like Beck and (early) Pink Floyd to more obscure groups like arty electro-rock collective Witchy Poo and free-form noise-punks the Swell Maps.

Caroline Brown

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Sample of The Lowdown's "Saved By God" from the CD Revolver II. Click the "play" icon in the control console below.

<p align="center"> If your browser doesn't display a control console, <A HREF="http://www.sfweekly.com/media/2000-11-22/lowdown.mp3"> download the MP3 file</A> to be played by a separate application. </p>

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"For me, it's wanting to make something that I wish was there, but isn't," explains Holden. "It's like there are these gaps between the music that other people have made. There's some kind of void that I see that I think needs to [be filled]."

"For me it just roots into this whole question of what do you do with music nowadays. I'm very much caught up in '60s pop music right now, and you look at [current] pop music, and it's "Oh, God,'" says Alper, shaking his head. "Where we're at in our history, there have been so many amazing bands, and it's a little overwhelming. It's hard to know what direction to go in. But at the same time, I'm not saying that the direction we have is necessarily all in reaction to that; it's also just a personal reaction to the world."

Alper occasionally plays as Kaleidoscopic Jelly Bean Gnomes, a one-man outlet for his continuing Beatles fixation. Along with his Sgt. Pepper jacket, Alper has been known to perform wearing a framed portrait of the Beatles hanging around his neck.

"I guess I wear the Beatles' portrait in reference to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, where the guy kills the albatross, and it's supposed to be this terrible luck so they make him wear it around his neck," Alper explains. "The Beatles are like this metaphoric albatross for me, I guess. I'm not trying to say that we're trying to kill the Beatles and rock music necessarily. I don't know. I'm just obsessed with the Beatles."

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