Overheard in Pianos 'N Stuff: It's a Saturday afternoon at the Blawnox music store, where a middle-aged hobbit with bratwurst fingers is renting stage lights and loudly braggin' on his band. "I'm tahrd of Pittsburgh being known as a cover-band town! And I'm just the guy to change it!" Maybe Pittsburgh was known for covers 10, 20 years ago, so good luck with that -- but everybody's gotta dream, I guess.
For locals Zombi, it's more like a nightmare -- a nightmare with a gorgeous instrumental synth score, that is. The duo of Steve Moore (guitars, synths) and A.E. Paterra (drums, more synths) is releasing its epic new album, Spirit Animal, on Feb. 4.
The album's grand opening is the 14-minute title track, which ranges from dreamy synth atmospheres to creepy repetitive riffs, from the lovely Zeppelinesque mellotron and acoustic arpeggios to the end's bombastic resolution. But there's stuff for shorter attention spans as well: The dancier "Spirit Warrior" is built on an odd-time synth and drum groove that eventually gives way to a trancey keyboard breakdown.
Spirit Animal is Zombi's third full-length on Relapse Records (also home to Don Caballero), and the band is also readying a split 12-inch with Maserati on Temporary Residence. With all this activity -- and a little luck -- maybe we'll get a local show sometime?
On the other side of the galaxy, in some ways, are relative newbies Casino Bulldogs, which have just released a four-song EP that clocks in at less than a single Zombi song, entitled Stop What You're Doing to Me.
The power trio, which got started a little more than a year ago, features Greg Trimeloni's punky-grunge guitar and high, insistent vocals, backed by bassist Bill Murtha and drummer Brad Pfeuffer. On the EP, the sound ranges from distorted riffing ("Green vs. Grey") to snarly power-pop (the title track) to more atmospheric, broody territory ("Worst Way").
The EP's a bit rough around the edges, sounding like the band is going for murky live-ish blare a la Neil Young's Mirror Ball rather than polish, which may prove a good fit for its style. To get a better idea of what Casino Bulldogs are all about, the band's playing 10 p.m. Fri., Jan. 30, at Club Café with saturated power-poppers Satin Gum and the shoegazey Olympus Mons.