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Rockin' Our Turntable: Pet Lions

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 17, 2011 8:20PM

Photo by James P. Morse

For immediately appealing indie-rock equally filled with sonic surprises and familiar melodiousness, it’s hard to do better than Chicago’s Pet Lions. Back in January, we listed their debut, Houses, as one of the most highly anticipated local records of the year. Now that the group formally released Houses last month, how does it stand up?

The answer is pretty damn great. Along with fellow pastiche-minded groups like Sybris (another Chicago act) and English act It Hugs Back, Pet Lions recall to mind 80s and 90s favorites of college radio past. Expect a lot of feedbacking guitars placed into pop song structures, and a breezy, harmonious vibe with the vocals and rhythm section. (Along the lines of Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Deerhunter, etc).

Despite the fact that Houses is the group’s debut, tracks like “Slow Wave” and “Comeback” also have a romantic wistfulness and nostalgia, with echo-laden new wave comparable to groups like Tears for Fears and Roxy Music.

While Pet Lions are firmly a guitar-bass-and-drums group, they use the studio to coax out unusual textures, which provides a sense of sonic depth that might have gone missing in a more straightforward, raw affair. At a crisp, efficient 10 songs, Houses proves itself to be a charmingly retro record with pleasures that are familiar, but absolutely durable.

Check out Pet Lions tomorrow when they open for Santah, who are celebrating the release of White Noise Bed. (See our exclusive download here).

Saturday, June 18, at Beat Kitchen, 9:30 p.m., $10, 17+