The Dust of Retreat

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This Indianapolis sextet at first appeared to be jumping aboard the “grad school rock” train, a la the Decemberists — plaintive, nasal male vocals, fanciful and bookish imagery. But rather than sounding too (nauseatingly) clever, this debut succeeds in blending restrained, mournful instrumentation with lyrics that convey real emotion. There are stark acoustic ballads in “Jane is Bringin’ the Drugs” and “A Light on a Hill,” and such feedback-laden ditties as “Quiet as a Mouse” boast trumpets, electric piano and a dramatic mid-song tempo change.

Frontman-songwriter Richard Edwards is a professed devotee of filmmaker Wes Anderson —”Margot” comes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in The Royal Tenenbaums — and the music would side nicely with Nick Drake and Nico on that movie’s sound track. By turns rocking and folksy, incorporating cello, wispy female harmonies and crunching guitars, the band’s blend of polish and earnestness sparkles. It’s perfect for that melancholy descent into a Midwestern winter where memories are real or imagined, where drinking grainy coffee from Styrofoam cups with a homemade scarf wrapped around your neck is everything that’s hopeful.

 

9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Blind Pig, 208 S. First, Ann Arbor; 714-996-8555. With Rogue Wave.

Monica Price is a Metro Times editorial intern. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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