The word "twee" gets thrown around a lot when talking about The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They are cute, with tendencies towards la-la choruses and cardigans ("we have three extras just in case"). But what you don't hear a lot, at least not yet, is how much they rock. Not the way, say, Cheeseburger rocks, but singer Kip keeps his guitar in buzzsaw mode and the amps set to Tinitus. (Another thing you don't hear people talk about too much is how dirty the lyrics are. All innuendo, but...filthy!) I've seen TPOBPAH a bunch of times over the last year and while they've always been good, they are genuinely really good now -- tight, rocking, and both Kip and Peggy have become more confident singers. This was their album release show, tour kickoff, and first performance since being bestowed (deservedly) with Pitchfork's coveted Best New Music status. The room was packed -- packed! -- with friends and fans, all of whom were very vocal and enthused and bobbing and swaying. The only thing that could have made it a more perfect evening would have been if it had fallen a week later on Valentine's Day.
MP3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Tenure Itch (buy it)
The whole night's line-up was kind of Friends and Family Night at Mercury Lounge. TPOBPAH's Slumberland Records label-mates caUSE co-MOTION played beforehand, with what I'm pretty sure was their first ever gig at the venue. (The band favors house-parties and Cake Shop.) Spazzy, scratchy, nasally, in an endearing way, they are the Eddie Deezen of indie with a bassist who literally bounces off the walls. Peggy was right up front in the crowd bouncing around too. They play again on Thursday at Cake Shop with Kansas band Rooftop Vigilantes, and Beachniks (which features JB of Crystal Stilts).
MP3: caUSE co-MOTION - I Lie Awake (buy it)
The other two bands both featured Pains drummer Kurt Feldman. He fronts The Depreciation Guild, who meld early-'80s electronics with classic shoegaze and the do it very well. Somehow, that combination of two quote-unquote dated sounds actually makes them contemporary. They did remind me a little bit of OG shoegazers Revolver but it may have just been Kurt's vocals. A lot of American bands tried to do the dreampop thing in the '90s but almost none of them pulled it off as well as the Depreciation Guild do now. Nice light show too. They open for TPOBPAH on all dates over the next month, so do show up early if you're going to see them. The Depreciation Guild's album is a free download.
Kurt also plays drums in Zaza, who are also in the dreampop realm but a little more on the arty, 4AD side, from what I could tell from the one song I showed up in time to catch. Will have to check them out again next time.
Please do check out Pains and the Depreciation Guild on tour if you can. Videos and tour dates after the jump.