Noise-rock godfather Thurston Moore once said, "You are human! Go forth and thrash!" And Atlanta's neo-noisy Deerhunter is a band that knows how to be human.
The self-described "ambient punk" band formed in 2001 with singer Branford Cox and drummer/keyboardist Moses Archuleta, along with other musicians they'd met through Atlanta label Die Slaughterhaus Records. In 2004, bassist Justin Bosworth died from a head injury suffered in a skateboarding accident, a tragedy that hung like a dark cloud over the band while it made its first record.
Josh Fauver, of hardcore band Electrosleep International, joined Deerhunter on bass, and the group soon released Turn It Up Faggot (referring to the kinds of things yelled at them by audience members). Six-foot-four and ultra skinny, Cox's unusual appearance -- and the fact that he sometimes wears sundresses and fake blood -- can elicit hostile reactions from audiences. (Cox has the genetic disorder Marfan syndrome, which also gave Joey Ramone his unusually long and spindly limbs.)
Soon after, Cox's high school friend Lockett Pundt was recruited to play guitar, and Deerhunter's signature reverb-soaked sound was born. The band recorded its second album, Cryptograms, in two days and released it last year on Kranky.
Cryptograms is loopy, psychedelic and somehow still down to earth, like it was made by a bunch of kids who each have a million favorite bands. Cox starts things off with his best Ian Curtis on the grim title track, then slinks into the background for the My Bloody Valentine-esque "Spring Hall Convert," and even makes a small nod to the Beach Boys on "Strange Lights."
Cryptograms suggests that Deerhunter has the whole ambient thing down: All that pretty, dreamy reverb is the audio equivalent of having someone swing a pendulum in front of your eyes. But the band's next record, Microcastle, has a lot in common with doo-wop and the Everly Brothers but "through this kind of schizophrenic lens," Cox recently told Pitchfork. "I'm really interested in girl groups, Phil Spector and stuff like that, and I feel like all we owe anybody is to explore what we're into."
The band was recently joined by guitarist Whitney Petty who, as Cox posted on the band's blog, "I've known since she was a cheerleader with a bad attitude." The band is currently touring with Nine Inch Nails, though Trent Reznor probably won't show up when Deerhunter stop in at Garfield Artworks on Sun., Aug. 10.
Deerhunter with Harangue, The Lampshades and Discuss. 8 p.m. Sun., Aug. 10. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $8 ($10 at the door). All ages. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com
- Schizophrenic lens: Deerhunter