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Melkbelly | Pith

The scrappy Chicago alt-rock quartet return with a potent sophomore offering.

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THE PRESS RELEASE:Melkbelly sculpt their signature balance between subtle melody and frantic noise on new album Pith. The Chicago-based foursome has made spatial dynamics central to its arrangements, reaching for weirder highs and more startling atmospherics, negative space giving way to enveloping walls of chaos. This sense of form is reflected not only in the purposeful production, but in the ceramic cover art created by Chicago artist Deborah Handler. Recording in two short sessions six months apart, the band worked with longtime collaborator Dave Vettraino, this time at Bloomington, Indiana’s Russian Recording. Alongside an arsenal of rock gear and airy synth layers coaxed from a Moog Prodigy, Pith’s multidimensionality was refined by the studio’s collection of rare Russian tube mics, which were placed in every corner to capture Melkbelly’s unabashed loudness. Frontperson Miranda Winters’ charmingly bright vocals are newly effected, delayed to a menacing, mysterious thickness. Guitars, handled by Miranda and Bart Winters, interlock and separate with dizzying ease, riffs dissolving into floating trails and reappearing with metallic edges. Bassist Liam Winters’ low grooves bounce and kick along with drummer James Wetzel’s rhythmically unsettling performance, which stretches time yet never falters.”

MY TWO CENTS: Start with some ’90s-based Breeders-style alt-rock from a female frontwoman, her guitarist husband, his bassist brother and an unrelated drummer. Add dashes of noisy mayhem and punk ruggedness to put a little more meat and muscle on their musical bones. Toss in some novel tempo-shifting experimentalism and post-rock intellectualism to add some new flavours to the proceedings. Combine thoroughly and you’ve got Pith, the impressively potent sophomore full-length from this dynamic and scrappy Chicago quartet led by formidable and enigmatic singer-guitarist Miranda Winters. Enjoy it before it gets cold.