Friday, April 29, 2011

Chiming pop, as heard through a haze: Beach Fossils and Craft Spells




CRAFT SPELLS
With Beach Fossils
At: Great Scott, Wednesday

Never mind the doom-saying about peak oil, considering the way contemporary indie-rock bands are employing the stuff this year, we may soon find ourselves approaching peak reverb. Case in point: the WZBC Spring Show Wednesday night, featuring Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils, whose latest album, “What a Pleasure’’ is so drenched in the stuff it’s like one of those pictures of a Gulf Coast bird covered in crude — if this analogy can withstand some additional mangling.

The like-minded, and stylistically similar Craft Spells, from Seattle, outshone the headliners slightly with their own effects-wet aesthetic in a surprisingly vibrant, utterly danceable set of post-punk-inspired jangle rock. Their recent “Idle Labor’’ is another in a long line of lo-fi, bedroom studio atmospheric studies in dreamy nostalgia-mining, but songwriter Justin Paul Vallesteros has wisely fleshed out his lineup to a full band with live drums for touring — the boundaries of the home laptop studio genius’s realm extend only so far.
On songs like “After the Moment’’ and “The Fog Rose High’’ the extraordinarily young band set the room on fire with disco dance beats pushing the squealing reverb-laden guitars to exuberant heights. One knock on the band — and bands like this in general, of which there are many now — is that the vocals lose something in the effects. A fellow critic in the audience compared both bands’ sound to Joy Division, which was a good call: I wanted to dance to both all night, but neither of the frontmen could sing.
Beach Fossils picked up right where Craft Spells left off, buildings layers of interlocking guitar chime that hung in the air like wispy tendrils of dusty sunlight over furiously stuttering high-hat hits and the occasional New Order-style bass lead. On songs like “Vacation’’ and “Distance’’ what seems downtrodden on record took on a high-energy context live. Dustin Payseur didn’t so much sing as lean up against a melody and put his arm around it. Still, it worked in context. “You guys are doing a great job with the dancing,’’ he said. Pretty easy to do with these two bands.

Boston Globe

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