Pterodactyl, American Royalty, Moritat, Flux Bikes | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Pterodactyl, American Royalty, Moritat, Flux Bikes Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Dec. 9, 10 p.m. 2011

As you know, it's against the rules to discuss a postpunk band without using the words "angular" and "jagged"—but Pterodactyl's newest full-length, Spills Out, has its share of disjointed rhythms and sharp, stair-­stepping guitar lines, so we're all good there. What makes the album distinctive (and addictive) is the comfortable swagger in the band's noisiness; each of the three members contributes to quirky, layered vocal melodies, which occasionally threaten to get a little cutesy but definitely help iron out the bumps. Spills Out, released on Jagjaguwar subsidiary Brah (run by Brooklyn heroes and Pterodactyl buddies Oneida), is pretty front-loaded, or maybe just too long—it piles up several of its poppier, more nostalgic-sounding numbers, like the busily lick-loaded "Searchers," toward the beginning. Dark, trudging songs like the sludgy "Thorn" provide a solid counterweight without tipping the balance, but by the time I get three-quarters of the way through the album, I want to start playing it again from the start to hear more of Pterodactyl's upbeat awesomeness. Not necessarily a bad problem to have, I guess.

American Royalty describe their music as a "never-ending showdown of genres," which reminds me of the way roots-rock and jam bands talk about themselves—not usually the most enticing selling point. But this Los Angeles trio is like a melange of indie LA's favorite sounds, not a stew pot of Bonnaroo goop: stirring dual vocals, dance-club thump-thump beats, subtly psychedelic guitar licks. It's just weird enough to work. There's a touch of TV on the Radio's soulful side in the mix—these kids can flat-out sing—and it's easy to imagine this stuff tempting people to break out their slickest dance moves. But there's also a bouncy electro-house vibe that could easily inspire a sweaty, amped-up bro or two to tear off his shirt and spin it over his head like a helicopter. Though I can't really argue with you if you hate American Royalty—the band's output so far definitely has a corny sheen to it—I also can't help liking their sound and wondering where they'll take it next. —Kevin Warwick Pterodactyl headlines; American Royalty, Moritat, and Flux Bikes open.

Price: $8, free with RSVP

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