Music review

Repackaging Our Early Century’s Post-Punk Characteristics, Atlas Release “Shapes”

  Is it too early to bring back the sounds of Interpol and the Strokes? Admittedly, those bands were a breath of fresh air at the turn of the century, though they soon proved they were one-trick ponies. But is a band necessarily at fault for repackaging a sound that was once thought to be saving rock and roll? Opinions may vary, but admit it, you liked those bands in the wee hours of the Bush administration. 

   Pittsburgh based indie-rock quartet, Atlas, certainly offer up an interpretation of Turn On the Bright Lights but there may be more Joy Division to their sound than Interpol. So if you are turned off by the time capsule that is early 21st  century post-punk (for which no one can find fault–especially not this author) you need not worry about Atlas’ sophomore EP, “Shapes”, and you may find it worth a spin or two.

   Atlas released their first EP in the spring of 2011. Guitarists Jon Miller, and Mike Slobodian, drummer, Nick McCall, and bassist/frontman, Eric Emerson combined to form the self titled debut. After a few legs of an east coast and mid-west tour Nick McCall left the band for Washington and was replaced by Graeme Louden. The band regrouped and released “Shapes” in the summer of 2012.

   Produced by the prolific J.Vega, “Shapes” is an aggressive five song collection with a refined post-punk attitude. While Atlas mine the caves of 80’s and early 2000’s new wave, they certainly have enough influences to keep “Shapes” original. The Bends era Radiohead is called to mind and late Rx Bandits which may be responsible for the prog thread that runs throughout.

   The third track of the EP, “All We Live For Dies” is certainly the most creative of the five and shows that Atlas do in fact have their own sound. The song opens with mid-range piano calmly establishing the melody as a violin whines underneath it. The vocals are precise and the dynamic change at the two-minute mark keeps the EP’s aggression intact.

   The closing track “Magnus” is unremarkable and the EP would have been better served closing out with the catchier, more energetic “Call Yourself A Friend.” J. Vega’s superb production, though, makes “Magnus” listenable.

   “Shapes” may not be a home run but it is worth sharing with your friends and does pave the way for some very talented musicians and songwriters to offer up something even more creative in the future. Keep your eye on this band, Pittsburgh, they’re likely to impress with something even more creative and original.