Retribution Gospel Choir brings thoughtful power pop to Thunderbird Cafe | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Retribution Gospel Choir brings thoughtful power pop to Thunderbird Cafe

Retribution Gospel Choir shares a few things with legendary slowcore band Low -- most notably, frontman Alan Sparhawk and bassist Steve Garrington, but also some fat, wet guitar tones and bassy, full riffs. Where Low skews sleepy, though, Retribution Gospel Choir is more of a rock outlet for its members. Although capable of something approaching power pop on songs like "Hide It Away," RGC isn't exactly a happy-go-lucky band, leaning instead toward dark tunes that range from post-grunge to a near-sea shanty.

The trio is rounded out by drummer Eric Pollard, also of Sun Kil Moon, whose Mark Kozelek produced the new LP, simply titled 2. The vibe of 2 is eclectic down the line; one track, "'68 Comeback," is simply a 45-second repeated blues-rock beat. Another, "Something's Gonna Break," starts out with more than two minutes of nearly inaudible music -- like the entire track is fed through one mic -- before kicking into a full, lush sound for the final 40 seconds. It's a production trick that might tickle an engineer, but renders the track virtually unlistenable.

These novelty tracks, though, punctuate a record of otherwise solid rock songs. Low fans will likely turn out en masse for Sparhawk and Garrington, on Sat., Jan. 23, at Thunderbird Café (a show organized by frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner). But it's fans of thoughtful power pop a la Big Star who might profit most from checking out Retribution Gospel Choir.


Retribution Gospel Choir with Kevin Finn. 10 p.m. Sat., Jan. 23. Thunderbird Café, 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $8 ($10 day of show). 412-682-0177 or

click to enlarge Choir boys: Retribution Gospel Choir
Choir boys: Retribution Gospel Choir

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