Bands have been pillaging 60’s pop music, from girl groups to The Beatles to Phil Spector, for decades, turning what could the most down right sunny tunes of the past 50 years into a provocative, avant-garde reinterpretation where feedback and noise all but drowned out the faintest structure of melody and themes brimming with sex, violence and drugs were standard. The Velvet Underground could probably be the most significant, and most likely first, example of this post-modern tendency in rock music, turning the jubilant and dense melodies of girl groups like the The Ronnettes and The Crystals into curiously harmonic walls of drone, complete with ironic lyrics about life in the city, heroin addiction, and transvestite hookers.
Coltrane Motion, however, are careful not to fall in line with Velvet Underground disciples like the Jesus and the Mary Chan and The Magnetic Fields, by pumping up the fucking fun quotient to 11, keeping the bouncy rhythm sections fast, and giving ample space for both the innocent and the haunting to invade their songs.
This Chicago duo, comprised of Michael Bond on synth and vocal duty and Matt Dennewitz on guitars, have more dancey hooks and rock swagger than they know what to do with. Their latest 7” single “Maya Blue/The Year Without Summer” boasts two solid documents of their jangle drenched sound that is their first record out put since 2007’s Songs About Music. “The Year Without Summer” splashes along happily as a wail of guitar drone tips the synth riffs back and forth to sound almost off key, transforming what could be a standard summer anthem into a day spent at the beach after sniffing glue. “Maya Blue” shuffles along beautifully with cymbals crashing and a quiet tambourine efficiently keeping time. The wall of guitar noise is still there, but maintains its pitch through the spacey guitar coda that leads the song out in the closing seconds.
Coltrane Motion comes to Pittsburgh’s Club Cafe on Thursday March 12, and should be able to get at least a dozen bodies on the dance floor. It’s exciting to see a young band stroll into town with with a set of tracks that I wouldn’t mind blasting from my car stereo in June, especially after this Pittsburgh winter doesn’t seem to end quick enough. And even while the cover of their latest single looks like it could have easily been an alternative record sleeve for A Love Supreme, Coltrane Motion make music that is a far cry from cool jazz. With a sound that illuminates like rich, melancholic sunshine, this Chicago duo sing loud enough for a year without summer to have at least one heatwave.