Watching Xiu Xiu play a concert is like watching three sugar-addled kids play in a candy store. The members move around the stage, traveling from instrument to instrument as they create a symphony of odd sounds. Frontman Jaime Stewart pummels his guitar, then snatches up a drumstick and bangs some cymbals, then picks up a harp and strums it until the song closes. Did we mention he's singing the whole time?
While many experimental rock bands rely on swells of feedback and reverb to carry their music, Xiu Xiu opts for a twisted, orchestral approach. Their experiments are done with xylophone, keyboards, guitars, multiple percussion instruments, and odd vocal effects. The music is challenging and sometimes disturbing, but strangely pretty as well.
- Andrew Leahey
Taking their name from the 1998 Chinese film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, post-punk throwbacks Xiu Xiu were formed in San Jose, CA, by Cory McCullough, Yvonne Chen (publisher of the indie zine Zum), Lauren Andrews, and Jamie Stewart.
Prior to the 2002 release of their first full-length album, Knife Play, the band made appearances on numerous compilations. Shortly after Knife Play's release, Springman released a 10" collaboration between Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof. The band issued the Chapel of the Chimes EP in 2002. The following year, A Promise and the limited-edition, mostly acoustic Fag Patrol EP arrived, while early 2004 saw the release of their most accessible work to date, Fabulous Muscles.
Xiu Xiu kept busy in 2005 with the full-length La Forêt and a split single with Devendra Banhart. The group's fifth album, The Air Force, arrived in fall 2006. An EP of covers, Tu Mi Piaci, was also released that year.