The Ceiling Stares, Pittsburgh’s newest underground rock heroes, embrace the lo-fi movement in the correct manner. Less-than-polished, analog-sounding recording techniques shouldn’t be used to mask the deficiencies of the band that utilizes them, nor should they be employed because the current wave of indie music trends indicate lo-fi’s (supposed) importance.
The rough, distorted haze of an analog impression only works when the song craft underneath holds up on its own. After listening to the Ceiling Stares self-titled debut EP about twenty times over I can say without hesitation their musicianship doesn’t come into question. Regardless of the group’s intent, which at this point doesn’t really matter, the EP evokes the thrilling nature of sonic authenticity. Authenticity in that it seriously sounds like it was recorded in a half hour on the back room stage of Gooski’s at 1:15 on a smoky Friday night in front of a packed crowd. I’m not saying The Ceiling Stares sound amateur, I am saying they make it appear as if one take was all they needed.
While they certainly possess all the trademarks of traditional American Underground Rock (your Husker Du’s, Pixies and Minutemen) along with similarities to current revivalists who seek to evoke that era wholeheartedly (Times New Viking, Blood on The Wall), the Stares seem to stretch their tracks out and jam. The noodling nature of the group allows each cut to breath and not get mired in a wall of hazy, distorted fuzz. “Tunnel Through Air” takes best of show, armed with a five minute plus running time and enough rust to cake on your sub woofer. The pummeling buildup capped off by a Jack White-like breakdown and towering first verse is alone worth the price of admission. The melodies soar and the guitar work is versatile enough to demand attention, but heavy enough to vibrate your ribcage.
Saw these folks at Gooski’s last Monday (or was it Tuesday) and the set was pure gold. Pittsburgh originals, they are, ready to saw through the thick haze of a summer evening with boozy, thrashing anthems the Steel City is more than proud of.