Little big rock

Minneapolis rock trio Little Man continues their journey through rock’s diverse traditions.

Little big rock

Andrew Penkalski

 

What: Little Man with Red Pens and The Rockford Mules

When: 9 p.m., Friday

Where: The Turf Club,1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul

Chris Perricelli subscribes to the less-is-more mentality for rock âÄònâÄô roll. Over the course of four LPs and this monthâÄôs EP âÄúOrbital AmusementâÄù the Little Man leader has cultivated a collection of songs steeped in the trappings of rock tradition, and the groupâÄôs roster has always been decidedly limited to a trio. After all, itâÄôs only more alluring to watch one guitarist stir up towers of harmonies in a way that many axe-stacked bands canâÄôt.

âÄúIâÄôm a huge Zeppelin fan, and theyâÄôre basically a three-piece with a singer, and if you hear their live stuff itâÄôs crazy,âÄù Perricelli said. âÄúSame with The Who. They didnâÄôt have a second guitar player, and thatâÄôs really great rock âÄònâÄô roll if you can make it work like that.âÄù

ThereâÄôs no denying that Perricelli knows his elders, but the spattering of T-Rex and Thin Lizzy throwbacks crawling across AmericaâÄôs modern music scene almost makes it a moot point. What separates Little Man from the pool of nostalgic competitors, however, is their ability to approach canonic bands not as creative crutches but as peers.

âÄúThereâÄôs the familiarity of classic rock that people like,âÄù he said, âÄúbut then IâÄôm bringing it to them in a different way âÄî a way thatâÄôs present and fresh rock.âÄù

ThereâÄôs an undeniably timeless quality to the music Perricelli and his supporting players convey. His treatment is also ever-evolving. Their 2007 collection of âÄô70s rock sensibilities, âÄúSoulful Automatic,âÄù nabbed them a best-band nod by City Pages that year. 2008âÄôs âÄúOf Mind and MatterâÄù marked a stylistic digression with its psychedelic harmonies and a more notable focus on spiritual subject matter.

Their new EP once again trends towards new directions, most notably in its brashness. It is a guitar record through and through. Many of the tracks drip with the kind of ebb and flow between rolling drum patterns and PerricelliâÄôs distorted riffs. Even with lean track lengths, the frontman still finds plenty of space to cram in solos.

âÄúThe guitar is a lot thicker, so mixing it was a bit of a challenge,âÄù he said. âÄúFitting everything in right took some time.âÄù

Even more impressive is how the releaseâÄôs comparatively basic parts construct such a sonically intricate whole. While Little ManâÄôs supporting lineup has evolved over the years, Perricelli has grown particularly fond of the chemistry between himself, bassist Brian Herb and drummer Sean Gilchrist.

âÄúI like the trio,âÄù Perricelli said. âÄúThereâÄôs just something about the way that we play that makes it sound big, and I think thatâÄôs impressive to people.âÄù

While the guitar may conquer over some of the bass lines on âÄúOrbital Amusement,âÄù the interplay between GilchristâÄôs drums and PerricelliâÄôs guitar has the kind of seamless fluidity that made âÄúLed Zeppelin IâÄù such a head-bobbing listen decades prior. ItâÄôs something that was largely gained from a few percussive renovations in the Chicago space where they recorded portions of the EP.

âÄúThey put a wood floor in, and it was a bit more live-sounding,âÄù he said. âÄúThere was that kit sound in the room, so that was really cool.âÄù

That live element of Little Man is something that Perricelli values as highly as his recording. Much like a particular purple-laden Minneapolis native, the Little Man singer and guitarist is a man of short stature (heâÄôs 5 feet 2 inches). While Perricelli may use this small superficial joke as the groupâÄôs namesake, his fervor on stage leaves this aspect of his rock persona as little more than an afterthought.

âÄúIâÄôm a performer as much as I am a recording artist,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs my favorite thing to do, and I want to be giving energy out and having people get it.âÄù