Brooklyn band Sightings combines challenging noise and pop structures | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Brooklyn band Sightings combines challenging noise and pop structures

click to enlarge Straw men: Sightings
Straw men: Sightings

The band's sound -- loud, fragmented, energetic -- may be beyond the pale for the average listener, but Mark Morgan insists his group Sightings conforms to certain standards that might be considered "pop."

"Maybe the sounds aren't all what you'd call pop, but it's an ABAB song structure. 'Pop' is such a loaded word, of course," he concedes. "It's shorthand for 'popular,' which our music isn't really." 

Sightings' music could be construed as structurally conventional, perhaps; sonically, the Brooklyn trio's body of work might better be described as "extreme" or "challenging." The latest LP, City of Straw, released on Brah Records, traffics in blaring feedback manipulation and electronic sounds as much as in rock riffs.

"To my ears it doesn't sound harsh," Morgan explains. "When it's good, it just sounds fucking awesome. If other people don't like it, I can't blame them. My mother doesn't like it, but it's not like I say, 'My mom's such an idiot!' because she doesn't like it. She's not."

While Sightings takes cues from post-punk, No Wave and noise, Morgan says they pull influence from bands most people would know. "It's an amalgamation of a lot of stuff, but our basic influences are pretty common: The Birthday Party, The Stooges, Gang of Four. It's not that we want to sound like them, because those bands were all about doing your own thing." Being like them, then, is defined by not being like them.

City of Straw is the band's seventh full-length; it's also the first in its decade-long existence to be released on Brah, the label run by the Brooklyn band Oneida, whom Sightings members have known for years. The title comes from some musing Morgan did after reading Mike Davis' book Planet of Slums, an exploration of the living conditions that the majority of the world, living in the Global South, endures.

"I don't know if he ever used the phrase 'city of straw' exactly, but the idea is that the city of the future will just be built out of stuff, not the materials we're used to in America. And I was thinking -- maybe things will go bad."

"That's not a big thing for the band or anything," he continues. "It's not our mission statement. We don't have a mission statement." That's not to say the band doesn't have a focus or intention driving it forward. "The intention is: It sounds cool."


Sightings with Dirty Faces, Expen$ive $hit. 10 p.m. Sat., May 8. Gooski's, 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill. $6. 412-681-1658

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