Previously, when discussing the music of Cleveland’s all-lady, post-punk band Hot Cha Cha, words like sophisticated and big-city weren’t uncommon. Despite their Midwestern roots, their sound, with elegant and elongated guitar tones and vocalist Jovana Batkovic’s occasional forays into her native, Bosnian tongue, had a very urbane feel to it. Of course, this didn’t match their stage persona. Batkovic was and still is an over-sized personality, engaging members of the crowd who don’t want to be engaged, and wearing things that few hipsters would wear (Those bright unitards and old-school swim uniforms come to mind).
Now with, Fantastic Static, their latest release for Cleveland’s Exit Stencil Records, Hot Cha Cha have developed an edge which matches their hometown’s grit. Batkovic’s voice has become rougher and more forceful. While her bandmates, in general, are far less rigid in their approach, unafraid to let a little noise enter into the mix. The result, as heard on a track like “Pleasure Cruise,” is surprisingly a lot like Sonic Youth’s early ’90s output — Equal parts art, rock, and squawk, and wholly apt for a city like ours.
Hot Cha Cha’s release party is taking place tonight, Thursday, September 23rd at Now That’s Class. We Are Hex and Fangs Out open.