FRESH MEAT: As the new kids on the Sub Pop block, Avi Buffalo have some big shoes to fill. Since its founding in 1986, the Seattle-based record label has been home to rock legends (Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr.) and indie-crossover giants (The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie), not to mention some the best and brightest bands in the biz currently (Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, Bright Eyes). What’s even more impressive is that the Avi Buffalo collective have joined these ranks before even reaching legal drinking age.
But don’t judge these kids by their ID cards. The Long Beach-based four-piece, fronted by 19-year-old Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, is churning out some impressively referential pop rock. Together with Rebecca Coleman (keys), Sheridan Riley (drums), and Arin Fazio (bass), Zahner-Isenberg’s shimmering, shoegazey pop draws influence from all parts of the musical canon—the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Wilco—and still manages to sound delightfully fresh.
Throughout the band’s self-titled debut, Zahner-Isenberg pairs his vulnerable warble with Coleman’s lilting coo to create guy-girl harmonies that not only sound pretty but also resonate lyrically. For “Remember Last Time,” Coleman and Zahner-Isenberg match each other note-for-note over a loose guitar jam, then go their separate ways mid-breakdown, with Coleman quietly repeating the line “I’ve never written a love song” with an innocence that could only come from, well, an innocent. Elsewhere, the pair inflects their youthful harmonies over spiraling guitars and organ parts (“What’s It In For?”) with an unabashed nod to ’60s icons like The Byrds and The Turtles. Not too shabby for a bunch of kids born almost 30 years after the fact.
“[I was] totally surprised and freaked out. I couldn’t believe it,” said Zahner-Isenberg about the day Sub Pop came calling. “But they’re the most awesome people to have supporting our art. We get complete freedom and love from them, which is something bands seldom get from record labels like that. There was just an immediately great connection with them.”
Avi Buffalo play Jensen’s Mainstage (2905 De la Vina St.) this Thursday, April 29, at 8 p.m. with Watercolor Paintings and Rey Villalobos. Call 563-3200 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.
HAVE A HEART: Also this week, SOhO (1221 State St.) and New Noise team up to play host to a killer triple bill on Monday, May 3. At 8 p.m., Texas indie rockers Hacienda and Amy Cook and Ohio-based headliners Heartless Bastards kick off an all-ages show of massive proportions. Those who caught January’s Alberta Cross show at Muddy Waters Café may remember Hacienda, who annihilated their opening slot with a thumping fury of blues rock riffs and Southern swagger. And now that the guys are touting a new disc (the recently released Big Red & Barbacoa), I have no doubt they’ll bring the same intensity back for round two.
Still, it’s Cincinnati’s Bastards who stand to rule the night. Since releasing their latest disc, The Mountain, back in February of last year, the foursome have been cutting their teeth on the road, opening for big-deal acts like Wolfmother and Jenny Lewis. Fronted by Erika Wennerstrom (whose voice is a mean mix of Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Cline), Heartless Bastards expertly blend bluesy pop progressions with a guttural rock ’n’ roll attitude that calls to mind seminal bands like the Pixies and Pavement. For show details and ticket info, call 962-7776 or visit newnoisesb.com.
GIVING US CHILLS: This Saturday, May 1, at 8 p.m., Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) welcomes South Carolina rockers The Winter Sounds). This quartet almost challenges listeners to pigeonhole them, with soaring three-part harmonies, saw-like guitar lines, and in-your-face deliveries that you can’t help but compare to those other bombastic art rockers, the Decemberists. Of extra-special note is “O’Fear,” a slow-building, high-pitched harmonic shanty that borders on Queen-like at some points, and Killers-influenced at others. For tickets and info, call 966-9328 or visit myspace.com/muddycafesb.