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  THE SHIPPING NEWS w/ Centre and Earlimart  
  The EARL  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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Going to see Earlimart was the first EvilSponge cross-coastal exchange. Specifically, west coast concert reviewer Gooner has commented on this band, and his comments prompted the Alanta-based Minions to make a trek out to see them.

Gooner described Earlimart thusly:

Their sound is rocking indie in the style of The Pixies, but adding a psychedelic element in the form of sonic variations throughout many of the songs.

Pixies comparisons are always welcomed, however, we wondered what he could have meant by "sonic variations". Well, we would find out soon enough.

Earlimart was in fact the opener this night at The Earl. Which means they hit the stage just after 10:30. They are a four-piece of guitar/vocals, bass, keyboards/vocals, and drums. And their first few songs rocked! Indeed, they were a rocking indie band with a slight Pixies influence -- but that influence comes by way of Weezer. Think power chords, chewy riffs, and catchy rhythms. Good stuff.

After a few songs of that stuff, they slowed it down a notch, the singer/guitarist switching to acoustic guitar and the bassist taking over the keys. The drummer and other guitarist added light acompaniment, as Earlimart played a few songs in this lighter vein. It really worked for them, adding a nice, if somewhat schizophrenic (are they rocking or not?) contrast. In all honesty the comparison that sprang to mind was Coldplay. Stripped down to acoustic, piano, and voice, Earlimart reminded me of what little Coldplay i have heard.

But then, to close out the show, they decided to rock out again. They played a few more tunes in their Pixies by way of Weezer style, and then treated the crowd to a cover. Or, rather, a cover of a cover: they did Strange off of R.E.M.'s Document which was actually R.E.M. covering Wire. So they got in a Wire reference and a R.E.M. reference all at once -- in a blatant attempt to please myself (big Wire fan here) and Brillo (who is a big R.E.M. fan herself, if you couldn't tell). A great way to end their set.

On the whole i enjoyed their performance. They are not the most innovative band out there, but they are a very solid band. That is to say, Earlimart are not doing anything too wierd: they are a good indie rock band. I would recommend checking them out, if you are an indie kid.

After Earlimart were done, Atlanta based math rock ensemble Centre took the stage. They are a standard four-piece who set up in that odd Atlanta/Athens math rock style: drums front and center, guitars on either side, and bass in the back. i suppose what this tells me is that i am supposed to pay attention to the drummer. But i was distracted: you see, 6 or 7 years ago i hung out with "Ed". This is way before Brendan and Minion-dom. Then Ed went away to college, and i never heard from him again. But, suddenly, here he is, playing bass in Centre. Who knew? So i was distracted by the sudden appearance, on stage, of an old friend.

But our past does not excuse his present. That is, as far as Atlanta math rock bands go, Centre is not exactly near the top of my list. Granted, i have only seen them this once, but from what i can gather they come to math rock more from the stoner jam band scene than from the punk scene (like, say, Rizzudo) or the jazz/improv scene (like, say, Purkinje Shift/Moreland Audio). Which means that Centre came across sounding like a prog band: very precise rhythms and intricate guitar parts that would get all noodle-y during extended jams in the middle. Well, for the most part. There were a few songs where they added vocals, and this addition made them sound Polvo-esque (which is a good thing, really).

All of the members are quite competent at what they do. In fact, "Ed" is a good bassist -- who knew? However, despite this technical proficiency i found myself getting bored during the extended jams in the middle of their songs. So, i was unimpressed, but i would also like to reserve judgment on this band until i have had the chance to see them again. Basically, right now i would recommend them only to die-hard math rock fans.

After Centre came this evening's headliner, The Shipping News. All i knew about this band going in is that it involved a former member of June of 44, a mid-90's math rock act i enjoyed tremendously. (Seeing them do Anisette live was a wonderful moment.) So The Shipping News had the potential to be very interesting. Then again, i thought that Anahata, June of 44's final release, was rather weak in the sense of being too noddle-y and unfocused. So what would The Shipping News be like?

The answer: amazing. The rhythms were exquisite, and the two guitarists swapped riffs effortlessly. Basically, they all stood up there and crafted delicate songs of tremendous technical proficiency, and they made it look easy. Brilliant. Wonderful. However, it was 1:30 halfway through their set, and despite my enjoyment i was rapidly turning into a pumpkin, so we headed out. Really though, i would love to see these people again, and if you are a fan of the Slint-derived branch of the indie rock family tree, then definitely check out The Shipping News.

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