It was maybe a week or so after Mi Ami’s LP Watersports was released that Touch & Go Records co-founder, Corey Rusk, announced the label’s dissolution. Watersports, which was the debut release for the San Francisco trio, was remarkably appropriate for Touch & Go, as it seemed to continue the label’s tradition as a leader in producing esoteric independent unrestraint. The Jesus Lizard, Big Black, Butthole Surfers… Not mere bands, but the progenitors of a veritable underground explosion that hit the MTV airwaves for a little while before the music’s integrity was sucked to the bone by commerce. Skeletons with plaid shirts were all that was left and then Creed came along. Sort of says it all.

In the same way that era of underground inaccessibility eventually morphed into an opportunity for Pepsi to sponsor an anniversary-cloaked 90s version of Woodstock, which only further cultivated an already suffocating era of cynicism, Mi Ami’s new album, Steal Your Face, unapologetically tears up Bob Marley’s likeness and lifts its title from The Grateful Dead. As a comment on the fallacy of counterculture and the ease at which it can be perverted to suit ones agenda, (which they do themselves to some extent, but I guess that’s the point), Mi Ami embrace the tradition of those bands that birthed post-punk indie expression in the mid-80s by being so unmarketable, abrasive and critical of their environment.

A propulsive machine of rhythmic disconnect, remarkably alone in a musicscape overrun with revival and recycle, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to tap The Pop Group for comparison’s sake, (which I did when I reviewed Watersports last year), or discuss their allegiances to Public Image, Ltd, Minutemen, dub music or bass-n-drum.

However, because there’s so little music-wise that readily defines Mi Ami, I would almost consider them to be a new phase of jazz-fusion, drummer Damon Palermo’s playful tom and consistent backbeat loops an improvisational playground for guitarist/vocalist, Daniel Martin-McCormick. Their love-them-or-hate-them brand of post-punk seems a raw translation of something like On The Corner or Get Up With It, tempting that Miles Davis level of critic vitriol and fan dismissal with McCormick’s vocal squeal and the band’s tendency to get caught up in overlong rhythms and expansive cacophony.

From the first notes of “Harmonics (Genius Of Love),” a rather clever utilization of Tom Tom Club’s hit song to express the general consensus that they use tom drums a lot, Mi Ami generate nervous tension that seems to trespass at times into “sexual” territory. McCormick’s guitar either shrieks or weeps, as does his voice, while bassist Jacob Long and Palermo generate an entrancing belly dance in the background.

“Latin Lover”’s mock-worthy disco amusingly nabs a byte or two from Whitney Houston (“I wanna dance with somebody”) and centers around McCormick’s confessional-turned-approval-seeker, “I felt something/I got excited/Is it COOOOOLLLLLL!?!”

From hip shake to crawl, Steal Your Face wisely transitions into “Dreamers,” a zone-inducing trip that seems meant for the modern/warped Haight-Ashbury. Though Mi Ami seems set on discrediting the figures of 60s rebellion-turned-t-shirt, “Dreamers” does sound relevant to that era, the sort of song that inspires slow movement and wonder, not necessarily in a chemically enhanced sense but in its hypnotic prowess.

“Secrets” is a ridiculous shriek fest that actually relies on McCormick to deliver its bridge with one long single-note scream that could almost be mistaken for feedback. The album’s last two tracks, “Native Americans (Born in the U.S.A.)” and “Slow,” work together as mid-tempo dissonant counterparts. They allow somewhat of a breather from the otherwise intense motion of the first half of album without lightening things up too much. “Good t