Peppering homebrewed punk with shards of metal, Icon Gallery -- named after a room at the Andy Warhol museum that features canvases of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie O. -- is releasing a new 7-inch on April 25, called "Declination."
On the single, recorded at a friend's house in exchange for a few square meals and a case of beer, guitarist Stacy Mackin uses pickaxe licks to chip away at the rhythms of drummer Kevin Parent and bassist Aaron Hall, around which singer Chani Ferens curdles her vocal chords into viscous shapes. Blessed with what sounds like a bloody scrape between Siouxsie Sioux and Lita Ford, Ferens beats the bleakness out of our social fabric with the yawping grace of a punk priestess.
Mackin's finger gymnastics spring into action on the B-side, "No More," once he cranks out some sinister transistor-radio frequencies by way of the "crackle box."
"I took a class at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts where you build this little noisemaker," Mackin says. "It's just like a primitive synthesizer that uses your body to complete the signal in a cigar box."
Icon Gallery is poised to likewise complete the signal for local upstart Dearskull Records -- its new 7-inch is the label's second official release. Last year, Mikey Seamans (a longtime fixture at Paul's CDs) bought a house in Polish Hill, founded Dearskull and moved out of town, in no particular order. After he relocated to D.C., Seamans became even more instrumental in shouldering the burden for Pittsburgh bands, helping to shepherd their recordings from analog dungeons to the pressing plant to the racks at a store like Paul's CDs.
Such helping hands embody Pittsburgh's iconic "working-class" attitude and its influence on the music scene. "I don't think I would've been given the opportunity to be in bands in another city," says bassist Aaron Hall. "People here have worked with me along the way to help me become the mediocre bass player that I am today."
Modesty is probably the best policy for the band members, because you can't hear a trace of it on the record. As Ferens puts it, "Stacy was writing these 'love-gone-wild' riffs where it's just like, 'My God!' The first image you get in your head is somebody making out and running away and your parents don't approve."
Icon Gallery 7-inch release show with Test Patterns and Baby Bird. 10 p.m. Fri., April 25. Gooski's, 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill. $5. 412-681-1658
- Icon Gallery's Chani Ferens