Critic's Choice

In these days of digital recording, pitch shifters and ProTools, it's hard for some people to imagine that there are still bands out there that don't want to sound nicer than Jesus. The American Analog Set, Saturday, September 8, at the Lion's Lair, revels in making a mockery of overpriced hi-fi systems. The band's lo-fi aesthetic (the Set is one of the acts that still favors the surface noise of vinyl over the crisp cleanliness of CDs) and living-room recordings may confuse anyone more in tune with the processed sounds of the radio. But despite its artfully poor production values, the Set can still get down, on record or in a live setting. Vintage guitars and old keyboards massage intricate melodies and spacey instrumental interaction out of fragmented bits of sonic debris; the resulting sound suggests both Stereolab and hardcore instrumental acts. On the band's latest release, Know by Heart, it trades longer, more persistent jams for shorter, more concise -- and therefore more pop -- tunes without abandoning its knack for intricate arrangements. While instrumental rock isn't the most fashionable thing going, the American Analog Set shows just how silly such concerns can sometimes be.


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