Not every band can score a major-label deal straight out of the box, but then most musicians don't have the established, road-tested pedigree of Terrible Things. The band, formed in 2009, consists of former Taking Back Sunday guitarist Fred Mascherino, ex-Hot Rod Circuit frontman Andy Jackson, bassist Brian Weaver and Josh Eppard, drummer for Coheed and Cambria.
Terrible Things' self-titled debut, released in August, falls somewhere between modern rock and the hook-heavy, pop-punk predilections of first-wave emo. But the catchy, swelling arrangements have a widescreen, radio-ready sheen -- like the Get Up Kids lost in a Matchbox Twenty.
"Our goal is to bring rock back," Mascherino told The Sandspur, of Florida's Rollins College. The band, he explained, wanted to make more straightforward rock than any of them had attempted with previous bands. "We want guitar solos, drumming unlike anything, harmonies."
The music's anthemic ebb and build seems well suited to its subject matter. Jackson contributes two tracks, but the album began with Mascherino's idea for a concept album. Based on a series of nearly 50 arsons in 2008-09 that terrorized Mascherino's former hometown -- the already-depressed Coatesville, Pa. -- much of the album is driven by a Springsteen-ish vision of wasted lives and redemptive hopes.
The album didn't crack the Billboard charts, but tracks like theatrical piano-rocker "Conspiracy" -- which struts as purposefully as the White Rabbits -- hold plenty of promise.
Terrible Things with Bayside, The Sleeping and The Composure. 7 p.m. Thu., Jan. 20. Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $13.50 ($15 day of show). All ages. 412-263-2877 or www.altarbarpittsburgh.com