September 21, 2016
That Was The Show That Was: Cymbals Eat Guitars with Wildhoney and Field Mouse | Sept. 16 | Great Scott
[PHOTO: Dillon Riley] Indie rock leading lights Cymbals Eat Guitars are established Clicky Clicky favorites, and its latest LP has only burnished our esteem for the east coast troupe. We last caught them opening for the legendary Bob Mould in 2014, when the fourtet dispensed gorgeous takes on tunes from that year's triumphant Lose -- a record considered, at the time at least, a pronounced "classic rock" pivot away from the band's math-ier earlier efforts. Critics fawned over the set, while sales of the Barsuk-released album were, in a word, underwhelming; some less than stellar touring ensued. Last Friday, however, we witnessed the group in high spirits at a thronged Great Scott on the release night of what should be Cymbals Eat Guitars' true pop breakthrough, Pretty Years.
Cymbals Eat Guitars presented a brilliant night of live rock sounds, including several selections off the already-life-affirming Pretty Years (out now on Sinderlyn). Well-regarded album tasters "July 4th," "Wish," and "Have A Heart" all shone brightly. But a clear highlight was the performance of "Close," the most winsome of the new collection's 10 tunes, whose a massive and charging earworm chorus was thrilling live and ranks among the best you'll hear in 2016. Stream "July 4th," "Wish," and "Have A Heart" via the Soundcloud embed below.
The band also offered a healthy sampling of tracks off the aforementioned Lose, including a towering, noise-addled, and set-ending take on that record's woozy centerpiece "Laramie." The sole concession to the group's earlier records was a midset "...And The Hazy Sea," the Why There Are Mountains opener, which somehow manages to fit in the band's sets despite its gangly pace. In spite of relative commercial indifference, Cymbals Eat Guitars' work continues to place it among the elite song shapers in American indie rock. Whether or not Pretty Years achieves the success it rightfully deserves, we can state with complete confidence that the group has become a crucial live act, a belief Friday's performance only reinforced.
Highly touted Baltimore dream-pop quintet Wildhoney opened the evening with its customary savoir faire. While its first EP for hitmakers Topshelf Records, Your Face Sideways, is a neat primer for the group's preternatural melodic gifts, the combo's greatest composition to date came just this summer via Slumberland's tour de force compilation Continental Drift. "Horror Movie," one of Wildhoney's two glorious offerings on Drift, is pop perfection from the grooves, but its live airing Friday evening presented a sharper edge, with the group's dueling guitars cutting across the mix like sabers.
Another of Topshelf's great indie pop concerns, Field Mouse, batted second in the lineup, fresh off the release of their own fantastic new record Episodic. Field Mouse's Rachel Browne (who recently penned a must-read essay for The Talkhouse about touring with a serious illness) is a collected fronter and perfect foil to lead guitarist Andrew Futral's unmic'd and consistently stoked spokesman. Episodic doesn't stray far sonically from the combo's debut Hold Still Life: short, punchy, and compact pop numbers are the rule on both. The complexity of Field Mouse's songs are even more apparent in a live setting: bright keyboard shades from Browne's sister Robin no longer hide in the background din, and the interplay between the two (and sometimes three) guitars is often thrillingly loud and nearly abrasive. It's a good look for a band whose songs sometimes underplay an inherent turmoil. -- Dillon Riley
Cymbals Eat Guitars: Facebook | Internerds
That Was The Show That Was: Cymbals Eat Guitars with Bob Mould | Paradise Rock Club | 12 Sept.