Poster by Tyler Jacob Thompson
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard new recorded material from local psych-rock darlings Delicious Pastries. They’ve offered sneak peeks in their many live shows since the most recent track, “Pygmalion Cantations,” dropped last August. But the six-piece is finally ready to debut two new tracks, “Vesper Bells” and “Ex Astris.” The double a-sided single will be released through their label, Golden Magnet, on Friday, November 10th, and the occasion will marked with a release show at Spirit Lodge that night.
But Delicious Pastries won’t be the only ones with something to celebrate. Lo-fi rockers Slugss will be dropping a new single that day as well, and co-headlining this event. The song, “Flight Chief,” is the first taste from their upcoming LP, Appeal, which will be released on Wild Kindness Records in early 2018. The group has been gaining local prominence, with a headlining slot in the Sofar Sounds show that took place at Deutschtown Music Festival this July. They also played the Spirit Summer Recess Music Festival in August, as well as various Wild Kindness showcases.
This collaboration—between two distinct genres, between scene veterans and relative newcomers—promises to be a fruitful and entertaining one. Both acts are musically inventive, and deliver the goods live with energy and finesse. And with these brand-new singles, both prove that the Pittsburgh music scene is very much alive.
If you’re a fan of Delicious Pastries’ previous work, then the foot-tapping “Vesper Bells” will be right up your alley. It’s fun, poppy psychedelia, with distorted guitars and vibrating synth-y keys—a sonic representation of the paisley scarves that many members rock for their live performances. The abrupt move from a spacey, atmospheric electronic introduction to an energetic guitar line at song’s start sets the tone for the entire groovy journey. In true Pastries style, singer Jonathan Chamberlain’s soothing vocals tend to blend into the soundscape, rather than standing prominently over it. This suits them, and gives the excellent guitar parts from Stephen Gallo and Burr Settles even more power in comparison. The message, like the music, is upbeat and encouraging (“Master the pure light inside you/Capture a mind that surrounds your being”), interspersed with mellower moments (“Names on a gravestone/Names on a stereo”), all with an imaginative, slightly surreal bent.
“Ex Astris” takes things down a notch. Hazy, Beatles-esque vocal layers of “Ahhh’s” blend into shimmering synths and light percussion. for an immersive, blissed-out ride (though a surprisingly short one, at only about ninety seconds long.) The track’s lazy-river, dream-like instrumentals are reinforced by the repeated melodic phrases and rhyme schemes in the words Chamberlain pleasantly sings: “Dreamin’ of a river streamin’/like the paths that your hopes detected/and our voices, tired of screamin’/Screamin’ past the streetlights breathin’…” Energy-wise, it’s a solid counterpoint to “Vesper Bells.”
If Delicious Pastries’ style is a groovy, in-your-face-yet-intricate explosion (or a pretty haze), Slugss’ is a slow, deep burn that gradually builds in intensity. Fans of artists such as Cloud Nothings, Surfer Blood, and Wavves will appreciate Slugss’ offerings, both new and old. “Flight Chief” balances grungy guitars with brighter melodic riffs; low, drawling, isolated vocals with harmonies and high impassioned shouts; and classic lo-fi influences with modern, effect-heavy twists. But these elements, rather than clashing, are cohesive. The lyrics also occupy multiple confessional spaces at once, reflecting the chaotic push-pull of modern young adulthood. Singer Lukas Truckenbrod admits he’d “never wanna be thought of as uncool/sing the songs that people hooked up to in high school,” while also acknowledging that “I’m all out of excuses for my bad behavior.” The punkish energy of their previous studio tracks is mellowed out here, but the band’s penchant for structure, flow, and instrumental layering remains strong. It’s a promising sign of what’s to come on SUSHII. (But don’t just take my word for it: have an exclusive first listen below!)
It wouldn’t truly be a party without a little dancing. (Especially when Pastries drummer Jesse Ley, who moonlights as DJ Jesley Snipes, has anything to say about it.) With that in mind, Friday night’s show will be immediately followed by a Strangeways dance party, with Snipes and his DJing partner, The Comeback Kid, curating the tracks. If you like to move, but crave more variety than what’s often played in your standard club, this is the event for you. Britpop, postpunk, psych, and indie songs from the past fifty years are woven together in a groove-friendly fashion. Before that, fellow psych-pop artist Jackson Scott’s newest musical project, Throwjoy, will be rounding out the live music lineup.
All this to say, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Tickets will be $7 at Spirit’s doors, and admission includes download codes for all three songs. Doors open at 9 PM, and the show is 21+. Find out more at the Facebook event page here.
You can stream “Flight Chief” by Slugss below, or by clicking here. The Delicious Pastries tracks will be available for streaming and download on their Bandcamp on the 10th.