Friday, October 21, 2011

Locals channel Floyd, Hughes, Interpol with ethereal rock EP release tonight

The first time I saw Cement Stars I was sitting on the bleachers at Tremont mesmerized by the transporting wall of sound the then two-piece created on stage. I thought, wow, what a perfect opening act. Since then the Charlotte band has grown to a three and now five-piece with the addition of bass and female vocals, but the hypnotizing wash of dreamy melodies remains.

The group signed with Charlotte-based Electric Mountain (Super Ape) in March. Now comes “Form & Temper," its aptly titled new EP and the follow-up to the 2010 full-length “Geometrics.” It celebrates its release Friday, October 21 at Snug Harbor (1228 Gordon St.)

Its cinematic sound drifts somewhere between trippy Pink Floyd, a John Hughes’ film, and European electronic pop and rock. There’s Interpol-like basslines and M83-style synth-pop with its closest stylistic relative being Swedish electro dream pop combo the Radio Dept. who may best be known stateside for its contributions to Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” soundtrack.

The John Hughes’ reference has stuck with me since the first time I saw them. His films always featured some song (Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses,” Flesh For Lulu’s “I Go Crazy” for instance) that encompassed that sense of teenage longing that was reflected in his films. Cement Stars has always had the ability to recreate that feeling thanks in part to its incredible echoing guitar sound. On “Form & Temper” it goes farther and gets darker.

There’s a tendency to zone out while listening – and it’s certainly not a bad thing to get lost in an album.“Passable Ghost,” for one, reminds me of songs you’d listen to while staring at the ceiling in the dark as a teenager. The guitar on “Holograms” forms lyrical phrases giving the song a sense of musical as well as lyrical storytelling. There are pretty male/female vocals too, but that talkative guitar remains the star.

All its early potential is realized here. The lineup growth allows for a fuller sound. But it hasn’t changed the direction greatly and the material is on par with that of indie bands from the West Coast and Europe who fall under the same stylistic umbrella.

The cd release show is tonight with the Bear Romantic, Coma League, and Dirty Drummer. Admission is $5-$6. 704-333-9799;

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