Tobin Sprout guided by Pop voices

More Concerts of Note

Apr 21, 2004 at 2:06 pm

Tobin Sprout

Wednesday · Southgate House

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Lou Reed and John Cale. Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar. Rock history is rife with tales of the creative pressure between exceptional songwriters vying for the spotlight in the same band and the ultimate friction resulting from their inability to co-exist. The names Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout can provisionally be added to that hugely talented roll call. With Sprout contributing guitar and his home studio to the mid-period incarnation of Guided By Voices, the band became a lo-fi Pop powerhouse of incalculable proportions. But Pollard can write a song about brushing his teeth while brushing his teeth and finish before the rinse, and that kind of songwriting surplus didn't leave much room for Sprout's material.

Although slightly less prolific than Pollard, Sprout has always been equally gifted when it comes to his penchant for Pop melodicism and hooky songcraft. That gift led Sprout to slowly and amicably become less involved with GBV to concentrate first on his painting career (his trompe l'oeil canvases are breathtaking) and then to test the waters with his debut solo release, 1996's Carnival Boy. Since then, he's continued to espouse a gentle breathy Pop groove that smacks of the whole Cardinal/Eric Matthews/Richard Davies sphere of influence while nodding in the direction of avowed Pop/Rock masters like Todd Rundgren and Game Theory's Scott Miller.

Sprout has remained firmly entrenched in the GBV family with contributions to the Airport Five releases and a handful of impossible-to-locate 7-inch singles; he has his own weird little project called Eyesinweasel and his last album, last year's Lost Planets and Phantom Voices, was yet another skewed indie Pop jaw dropper. A Michigan resident since the mid-'90s and evidently more energized by his paintings than his recordings, Tobin Sprout still maintains a home studio — fan hope springs eternal for more than an every-other-year release from one of Pop's unsung geniuses. (Brian Baker)

Templeton with the Fairmount Girls and DJ Cuddly D

Wednesday · The Comet

If the high volume of energy present from the first track to the last on Columbus band Templeton's latest release, It's a Beautiful Lie, is in any way indicative of their live performance, folks who head to The Comet are in for one hell of a show. Having seen the band just last week in their hometown myself, I've got good news — it is. Throughout their set, the band gives its audience just what they came for: fun, catchy, intelligent Noise Pop delivered with strong musicianship and Rock & Roll swagger to spare.

Formed in 1998 by Christian Hurd (formerly of Howlin' Maggie), Templeton have spent the last six years working away at becoming the Rock stars they so rightfully deserve to be. The only question is, why aren't they yet? Hurd and his bandmates have all the requisite charisma, stage presence and, most importantly, talent ... and then some. His powerful songwriting is showcased well on Lie, where nearly every track on the disc is a gem — from the rollicking and punchy "Useful" and "Get Around Gal" to the more sensitive and emotive "Rollercoaster Ride" and "The Anybody Benefit" to the near-perfect Pop Rock tune "Shangri La." And they all sound just as great or better live. Opening for the band are local Indie Rock faves The Fairmount Girls. In between bands, local DJ Cuddly D will be spinning her "international way-out sounds" and, with her self-admitted fetish for "1960s Italian porn soundtracks, Japanese Pop and Avant-Electronica" her sets alone will make the trip to Northside worthwhile. (Ericka McIntyre)

Satyricon with Morbid Angel

Bogart's · Thursday

Finally, an example of a band who was fortunate enough to land a deal with a major label without hinting at the notion of "selling out." Even though Europe's branch of Columbia Records funded Satyricon's latest album, Volcano, their onslaught of Black Metal remains as filthy and twisted as their four previous releases but with a bit more polish. This crisp production is often a cancer to Thrash Metal bands, dissuading fans who embrace the underground feel of the genre as well as its ability to take such Demonic Rock off of its strictly primal level and filter it through a sieve of domestication to produce something that appeals to a broader, more sympathetic audience. Thankfully these pitfalls are avoided with ease. The suitably titled CD erupts with sharp edges, searing heat and an overflow of intensity. Imagine an amalgamation of Skinny Puppy's eeriness with the rage of Dimmu Borgir.

For keeping the true soul of their Metal intact, we must give appreciation to Satyr, Frost and Kine, core members of the group. It's surprising that this band is technically just a trio — there are more layers on the tracks than there are circles of hell, with each part being completely distinguishable from the others. Songs like "Angstridden" and "Fuel For Hatred" display a wonderfully symbiotic relationship between catchy buzz-saw guitar riffs, merciless double bass drumming and ghostly keyboard ambience, without any side overshadowing the other. Satyricon is a prime example that a soul given over to the Corporate Man can still be as black and baneful as it's always been. (Jacob Richardson)

Avail with Bouncing Souls

Sunday · Bogart's

What defines Hardcore Punk these days? I mean, really. Does it exist in a pure state anymore? Well, according to many reliable sources, specific elements must be included to garner the certification of being Hardcore Punk. These include: 1) music that's played impossibly fast, 2) vocals that are shouted, 3) simple guitar riffs and 4) the records must sound like they were produced in someone's basement. Avail pays strict attention to this checklist yet also exercises certain liberties that an uncomfortable amount of other bands tend to overlook. First, their music is simple without being elementary. It's exceedingly obvious that the song composition on their latest album, Front Porch Stories, is well planned, making sure that each track stands out on its own power. The vocals, contributed by Tim Barry, maintain a level of urgent screaming without being whiny (whew!). The lyrics show that they've moved on from the high school days of pining over the girl they love in English class or the troubles with parents who won't just let them be free.

And while many people also believe that Punk music thrives on exposing the corruptness of all government branches and consequently upholding personal liberty through anarchy, Avail avoid the cliché political soap box. Instead they focus on myriad adult issues such as murder, pollution and inequality among social classes. As far as the instrumentation, Avail aren't just flexing their muscles to show how they can play difficult pieces; straightforward playing keeps the energy and pace from song to song. This is a complete Hardcore Punk band without any unnecessary or gratuitous frills to get in the way. (JR)