Instrumental Indie Rock trio Ampline released its latest long-player, Rosary, on Nov. 14 through the locally based, nationally-distributed Shake It Records. Wednesday night at the Southgate House, the band is hosting a local release party for Rosary, featuring an impressive roster of locals on bill: Caterpillar Tracks, Knife The Symphony, Arms Exploding, Alone At 3am, The Turnbull ACs and Campfire Crush. Performances will be split between the Southgate's Parlour and Ballroom stages.
Founding member and bassist Kevin Schmidt has been Ampline's constant since the band released its debut in 1998, but with the current lineup — rounded out by drummer Rick McCarty and guitarist Mike Montgomery, both also of thistle and The Light Wires — Ampline's sound has congealed and gotten more powerful. Rosary finds the trio in peak form, a throttling mélange of melodic, burly guitar sparks, propulsive rhythmic throbs and compositions unbounded by the stricter structuring that comes with having a singer, but still cohesive and memorable. Without vocals as a focal point, Ampline can't take a break when the singer decides to emote, and it's clear they know this, keeping things intense and exciting throughout. Rosary is, thankfully, low on meandering, jammy noodling; virtually every note is purposeful and well placed, yet it still sounds remarkably spontaneous.
Rosary features plenty of amped-up, energized Post Punk, like the robust and volatile "Red and Yellow" and "Paper Tiger." But the deeper you get into the album, the more the sound and songs expand, as the band experiments with impulsive structures and ear-grabbing sonics. "We Are Appalachian" begins with a lazy, tectonic sway, which the musicians build on gradually, the track eventually rising back to driving forcefulness.
The seven-minute-plus cut showcases the group's almost orchestral understanding of the dramatics and dynamics of composition. Likewise, closer "Have Gun, Will Travel" tops the eight-minute mark, but the magnetic shifts (including a noisy, tribal breakdown that sounds completely improvised) make it seem like several songs in one, a mini Rock Opera, minus any words to tell the story.
The key to a successful instrumental band (it should be noted that Ampline does use the occasional sung melody here, but they are usually ghostly, buried in the mix with the other instruments) is their ability to appeal to listeners used to hearing someone singing by keeping the songwriting consistently compelling. Mission accomplished. (myspace.com/palehappening)
· It's become a local Thanksgiving-time tradition, right up their with football and the ceremonial unbuttoning of that top pants' button. Local Pop/Rock legends psychodots perform their annual show at the Southgate House Friday with guest Katie Reider. Superfans also might want to head up to Dayton Wednesday night, when the band plays the Canal Street Tavern. (psychodots. com)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com