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You have, over the years, likely exhausted all conventional synonyms in your undoubtedly nuanced appraisals of Xiu Xiu’s curious allure—there are, after all, only so many pages in a thesaurus dedicated to "confrontational," "abrasive," and "hysterical"—and so for the sake of expediency, allow us to propose an adjective that may have heretofore escaped you: subtle. It goes without saying that Xiu Xiu’s singular idiom is a haunted amalgam of narrative intimacy and aural violence. But for as much as is made of Jamie Stewart’s sonic sadism and horrorshow narratives, what really sets Xiu Xiu so powerfully apart from their would-be contemporaries isn’t the open-wrist assault, but the obsessive attention to every detail buried within the band’s devastating squall.

Xiu Xiu was formed in the brain of Jamie Stewart in the summer of 2000. Originally from San Jose, CA the band released their debut LP Knife Play in 2002 and quickly followed it with the Chapel of the Chimes EP on Absolutely Kosher Records. Constantly at work the band’s second full-length, 2003's A Promise, maintained the dark melodies and heavy percussion and brass instrumentation people had begun to expect from Xiu Xiu. Over the next two years the band released the more pop friendly Fabulous Muscles (2004) and La Foret (2005). In 2006 Stewart broke with longtime member Mculloch before recording the bands fifth LP, the Air Force with production done by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier. In 2008 the band recorded Woman as Lovers, a record marked with greater synth-pop influence.