Atlas Sound @ The Whole Music Club

Rebecca Lang

 

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Bradford Cox of Atlas Sound looks like above picture, but his music sounds more like a smoke-filled southern bog inhabited by sensitive space aliens from the future. More specifically, his new album “Logos” finds his stream-of-consciousness delay pedal toe-taps unfurling themselves into intimate, melodious and at times even catchy tunes. He visited The Whole Music Club on Thursday Feb. 18, wearing running shoes, a worn-out winter hat and ready to chat.

His show was preceded by JG Everest, a local songwriter and member of Roma di Luna. Everest’s show was mellow and organic, featuring hushed vocals that seemed impossible coming out of a beefy guy in a plaid shirt and baseball hat. Following Everest was local instrumental band Paragraphs, who opened by muttering incoherently and admitting, “That’s why we don’t sing.” They proceeded to play atmospheric, textured, but not necessarily memorable jams for the better part of an hour.

Cox strolled out to find half the crowd sitting as if ready for a school assembly and the other half clapping and shouting “I love you Bradford!” He loves them too, even though he just met them. This he made clear several times.

Watching Atlas Sound live is standard sample-based jam fare, as loops layer and build, about to go out of control without constant toe-tap maintenance. Bad musicians do this poorly, letting textures repeat until they become meaningless, and good musicians add interruptions and segues at all the right places, creating structured narratives that hint at the future of songwriting. Cox is one of the good ones, playing a melee of his best tunes in a long, connected progression of Atlas Sound soup. He held an acoustic guitar, but often he’d just turn his chord progression into a loop and tap on the actual guitar idly – how futuristic.

What really makes seeing Atlas Sound unique is Cox’s tendency to chatter. Between making fun of The Whole (he said it made him feel like an amateur playing a coffee shop gig, and also that he’d like to travel back to 1993 and live there, but first he’d take down the Liz Phair painting), he rattled off a few news headlines he’d memorized (for the audience). At one point he compared himself to Johnny Ramone and then said, “F-ck that, he’s a republican.”  Not that he hates Republicans or anything. His chattering was at best when he told a tale of masturbating to a Liz Phair video tape. “Can I get rated-R here?” he asked. The story ends with his dad finding that the tape was stuck on slow motion. Instead of being embarrassed, he said, “Cool it dad. Cool it. Order a pizza.”.

In place of an encore, he decided to give a “speech,” where he switched between topics for twenty minutes and strummed a few bars of “Linger” by The Cranberries. It’s douchey, in Cox’s opinion, to strum out an epic chord, throw up one’s hands and then say, “Thank you very much!” before strolling off the stage. Instead of doing so, he demanded the audience look up a singer/homicidal maniac called Joe Meek. Stealing from Joe Meek was a part of his songwriting process, he said. Stealing, he “learned it from Stereolab.”

Hopefully someone invited the lonely singer out for a few drinks on the town.