It's a rare band that lands an unsolicited record deal from Sub Pop after cutting its first rough demo. But then, few bands have the pedigree of Obits. The relatively new Brooklyn-based hard-rock group includes a couple of seasoned vets on guitar: Rick Froberg, formerly of Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu, and Sohrab Habibion, once of the '90s D.C. band Edsel.
Obits got a boost from Sub Pop when the band was asked to play the venerable label's 20th anniversary show, in 2008, before it had even released an album. Obits' appearance at the Brillobox on Wed., July 29, will be the band's second show in Pittsburgh, and the first since the release of its debut, I Blame You, earlier this year.
The reference points on I Blame You are varied, but generally in the vein of old-school straight-ahead rock. "Two-Headed Coin" cruises along with a chooglin' Creedence sensibility, as does the record's title track; the band throws it into overdrive every now and again with punk-speed shuffle beats, such as on "Light Sweet Crude."
Froberg's clear and powerful vocals are no small part of what makes Obits work as well as it does. On a track like "Lilies in the Street," with its half-time power-pop refrain, his Alex Chilton-esque delivery is what makes an otherwise simply good song a fantastic one.
Those looking for a reprise of Obits' antecedent bands might be disappointed. The post-grunge syncopation and fat guitar tones of Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes are nowhere to be found, nor is any trace of Edsel's warm, bassy indie rock. (Which isn't to say that the low end is missing in Obits; the rhythm section holds down a thunderous rumble throughout the debut.)
Polished by years of experience but maintaining a garage-rock sense of simplicity and energy, Obits pulls off rock that sounds great in a technical sense without becoming stock and boring. It's little wonder that the band was getting the kind of hype it did before even releasing a record; it's only going to grow from here.
Obits with Disappears and Kim Phuc. 10 p.m. Wed., July 29. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $8 ($10 at the door). 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net
- On the inside looking out: Obits