The ever-evolving cast of characters, anchored by front man Doug Martsch, that make up the band Built to Spill, return to Pittsburgh after a two year lapse. This incarnation of the group features Martsch, of course, along with long time guitarists Brett Netson and Jim Roth, joined by new members Steve Gere (drums) and Jason Albertini (bass). While no new album has been released since 2009’s There Is No Enemy, we’re still geeked to have the indie icons back in the Burgh.
After obtaining some critical acclaim in the nineties, some felt their work in the 2000s went in the wrong direction. Similar to Modest Mouse, with their raw distorted hallmark sound of 90’s indie rock, they began sounding more polished. It’s a matter of opinion if that was a good or bad move though. One thing’s for sure, it’s always been obvious that Martsch puts painstaking detail into his art. But don’t ask him to interpret that art. He’s been known to dodge questions about the meaning to his lyrics, claiming they’re chosen more for their meter and suggestiveness than anything else. Maybe his lack of implied meaning helps us find a more personal meaning. They’re pure and open to our interpretation, often possessing a storytelling quality. Like in “Cars”, which the band often plays during their shows in dedication to their former drummer who passed away, Andy Capps: “You get the car/ I’ll get the night off/ You’ll get the chance to take the world apart/ And figure out how it works/ Don’t let me know what you find out.”
Martsch’s vocals still have an unconventional, out of key, distorted quality, and his influence from rockers like Neil Young is heard in his jammy guitar solos (their cover of “Cortez the Killer” rivals the original). Yes, There Is No Enemy sounds more ‘produced’ than previous albums, we attribute that to the band’s maturation and evolution. It also has a sadder tone, more so than the angsty energy of their older work. One thing we know for sure is the live shows are not to be missed, filled with high energy and the perfect amount of signature Martsch guitars solos.
The show is at Mr Smalls on November 11th (that must be our standing date with them, as their last show here was for the Levi’s concert in Braddock on 11/11/11) from 8-11:30pm. They’re joined by The Warm Hair and Canadian rockers Slam Dunk. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 day of show, but we scored a pair to giveaway to one of our lucky readers! Just follow the instructions below and keep an eye on your inbox Friday to find out if you won. You’ll only have 24 hours to claim your prize.