If, like philosopher Alfred Korzybski, you know how far a map can stray from the territory, an entire atlas can be downright disorienting. Likewise, Atlas's debut CD, Ways You Once Thought Were Short Cuts, is a confusing series of creases, tears and folds in the cartography of post-punk. "Cutback," the disc's opener, strains toward four compass points at once -- melody, dissonance, discipline and chaos -- while scrambling down a dark, almost nihilistic path. The rest of the songs are just as disjointed, surveying the jagged terrain of early Cursive and Q and Not U as well as the craggy turf once claimed by Mission of Burma. Occasionally, singer/guitarist Alan Andrews's quaking vocals sound lost amid all the jumbled coordinates of riffs and rhythms, but an unerring sense of direction is maintained -- specifically, straight into the nerve endings of your inner ear. When Andrews wails the lines "Let's take a new direction/We'll head south/We'll find a new perspective/Turn it all around," you'll be ready to hand over the map and let Atlas navigate its own dizzy, reckless course to sonic oblivion.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.