Cement Stars, Modern Man, Little Bull Lee, Chemical Peel

When: Fri., Aug. 17 2012

CEMENT STARS This Charlotte combo started as a bedroom-based, lo-fi recording duo enthralled with the buzzy electronics and dense textures of ’80s post-punk and New Wave. Brothers Shaun and Bryan Olson have since expanded to a five-piece, making room for driving drumbeats and synth player Enid Valu’s gauzy vocals. The chilly John Foxx–style synth drones that dominated the Olson’s debut EP remain, but they are joined by melodic New Order-like bass and dual, moody, Chameleons-like guitar. To their credit, Cement Stars expand on their compelling influences, adding prickly, cold atmospherics reminiscent of Portishead in the service of Bryan’s impressionistic lyrics. With textures thick enough to slice with a knife, the Cement Stars wisely use them as a spectral backdrop rather than a sludgy wall between band and listener. A shoegaze haze still permeates the pensive, off-kilter melodies, but the songs are anchored by Shaun’s precise and forceful percussion. It’s the source of Cement Stars’ uneasy appeal that they manage to remain grounded while their floating vocals merge like spirits in the night.

Pat Moran

Price: $5

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