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In 1987, a quartet of longtime Ann Arbor, Mich., musicians traveled to Madison, Wis., to record with then-little-known producer Butch Vig. Laughing Hyenas recorded the minialbum Merry Go Round for Touch and Go, and commenced a descent characterized by rumors of drug abuse, emotional instability, and intraband strife. Yet the tension created a wholly aggressive, entirely cathartic hybrid of Nick Cave, the Gang of Four, and the blues. The band’s sound is spearheaded by John Brannon’s hoarse, maniacal vocals: He shouts, stomps, screams, and yells his way through such bleak lyrics as “Gabriel” ‘s “I woke up this morning/And I had a vision/I was ajunky gunslinger/Shooting on the range/Had a shaky hand/And a one-way ticket/Straight to hell.” Guitarist Larissa Strickland adopts the slicing tone of Gang of Four’s Andy Gill, drawing blood from her choppy six-string guitar work. Kevin Strickland’s heady, propulsive bass and Jim Kimball’s bludgeoning drumming work like an old jazz tandem, supporting the chaos created by Brannon and guitarist Strikland. The Hyenas continue to sporadically release albums, but they’ve yet to equal Merry Go Round and its follow-up You Can’t Pray a Lie. The band’s rage still runs deep, but it was epitomized by this spectacularly desolate debut.