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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tonight in Music: The Pica Beats, Stars, Feral Children

posted by on October 9 at 11:42 AM

Photo by Kati Von Lehman

The Pica Beats
The track record of young Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art is—irony alert—hardly lacking in artistic merit, but the Pica Beats’ sophomore album, Beating Back the Claws of the Cold, is its finest release yet. Singer Ryan Barrett’s songs strike a perfect balance between inscrutable but resonant lyrics and simply catchy melodies, and his assembled players surround his worn but able singing with bedroom symphonies of guitar, drums, bowed bass, oboe, piano, synthesized strings and horns, vocal harmonies, and even sitar. This album owns autumn. (Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000. 8 pm, $7, 21+.) ERIC GRANDY

The Pica Beats are also the subject of this week’s music lead, where Eric Grandy explains “On first listen, one might mistake the Pica Beats as just another of Seattle’s current crop of rootsy, trad-folk revivalists… But what separates the Pica Beats from these bearded would-be mountain men and rural hollerers is a certain twee quality—listen closely, and it’s clear that Barrett and his band are as much Slumberland as they are back-to-the-land.”

Read the whole piece here. While you’re reading, enjoy their song “Poor Old Ra”:

“Poor Old Ra” - The Pica Beats

As for the rest of tonight’s happenings, from this week’s U&Cs:

Feral Children - “Spy/Glass House”
Feral Children, Loving Thunder, Mountain High, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death
(Comet) Feral Children’s moniker proves to be appropriate in the first track of their latest full-length, Second to the Last Frontier. “Spy/Glass House” starts as an obvious nod to early-’90s Modest Mouse, but soon after, the band unleash something inhuman: the quick, growling yeahyeahyeahyeahs and the high-pitched ooh hoo hoos. It’s wild and animalistic and, when witnessing it in person, unsettling. And it doesn’t stop with that one song. “Jaundice Giraffe” has an eerie intro that, with its subdued, steady drumming and tribal background vocals, could be the soundtrack to footage of a zebra being hunted in the savanna. I can see the vultures rise up from the field as the lion strikes and the low drum beats on. MEGAN SELING
Stars - “Take Me to the Riot”
Stars, Think About Life
(Showbox at the Market) Canadian indie-rockers Stars share some, er, stars with the constellation that is Broken Social Scene, and they make similarly intimate and layered soft-rock epics. Stars err to the more traditional, though, with less of the ambling ambient passages and wonderfully cluttered crescendos, and more straightforward piano balladry and big, soaring—to the point of tacky Broadway bombast—choruses. But what the band lack in subtlety on last year’s In Our Bedroom After the War, they make up for with a loose story arc, fleshed out by some seminarrative liner notes, which only heightens the sense of musical theater. With their themes of waking up safe and sound after a long international nightmare, the band could choose no more apt time to take the show back down to the states than our anxious election season (though they also have a new EP to promote). ERIC GRANDY

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