Sports Metaphors goes for the gold | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sports Metaphors goes for the gold

Imagine Weezer dubbed onto a cassette, played on a tape deck that's out of calibration.

Handsome mugs: Sports Metaphors (from left, Ryan Kauffman, Dane Adelman, Cory Savit)
Handsome mugs: Sports Metaphors (from left, Ryan Kauffman, Dane Adelman, Cory Savit)

No matter what preconceptions may come to mind when one hears the band name "Sports Metaphors," the band that actually goes by that name likely doesn't fit them. There actually isn't much of a formula the three-piece fits at all, except maybe "power pop as filtered through a layer of murky, bendy weirdness."

Sports Metaphors — guitarist and vocalist Dane Adelman, bassist Cory Savit and drummer Ryan Kauffman — started playing together as such last year. (They'd all been in another band together, with the exact same lineup, which broke up, meaning the trio is essentially in an on-again, off-again musical relationship.) This Friday, the band celebrates the release of its first album, Handsome Fugue. 

The members recorded the eight-song, 50-minute ride themselves in the attic of the house Adelman and Savit share; it's got an intentional fuzzy, lo-fi quality that brings to mind bands like The Olivia Tremor Control. It's a valid approximation of seeing the band live — though in person, the melting roar of Adelman's guitar distorts the listener's conception of what otherwise are tightly composed power-pop songs. 

"I use the same Squier Stratocaster I've had since I was 14," Adelman explains, "and I have a whammy bar. I run it through two amplifiers; one has distortion, and the other has delay, so it creates this wash." 

It's admittedly very much inspired by My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, the guitarist who took whammy manipulation to the next level. The result is something that sounds like Weezer dubbed from the radio onto a cassette tape, then played on a cassette deck that's slightly out of calibration. Besides MBV, Adelman cites some of the regulars — The Beatles, The Beach Boys' Smile — as influences, in addition to one unexpected one: the abrasive Olympia, WA-based '90s band Unwound.

Songs on Handsome Fugue range from the three-minute "Just Another Magazine" (math-y and unconventional, it probably best represents the Unwound influence) to the whopping 15-minute album closer, "Admissions." All of the songs exhibit a tendency to keep moving forward, progressing from section to section with a certain pop ease, but also an intentional uncertainty.

Would the three-piece consider adding a rhythm guitar or keyboard to hold the tunes down — especially given the unique and soaring nature of Adelman's guitar work?

"I like a three-piece because I think the more people you have, the harder it is," Adelman says. "Especially if you have strong personalities, and we all do. We've never thought of adding anybody."

They do like working with other bands, though. "You read about a local scene like what Olympia had, and it doesn't feel like that happens as much anymore," Adelman says. "We're excited to be part of something that feels like that sort of a localized scene, with bands like Skinless Boneless and Hot Garbage."

Skinless Boneless, in fact, joins the CD-release event on Fri., May 4, at Howlers in Bloomfield. It's a venue the band has played plenty before — "The sound is always great there," Adelman notes. Guess that's the home-field advantage.

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