The Early Stages, Beerland (March 28)
The Early Stages — no, they are not a Marillion cover band — are part of a long-standing sub-genre of the American underground/alternative/indie/college rock scene that exists thanks to the undeniably strong influence of The Velvet Underground. There have been countless bands who have worshiped at the altar of The Velvets — The Feelies, The dB’s, Pylon, R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, Galaxy 500, Luna, Small Factory and The Magnetic Fields, to name a few — but none of these bands sound exactly like The Velvets. It seems as though these bands have been raised by their forefathers (and mothers) to cross-pollinate and incorporate plenty of other influences into their sound.
The Early Stages is a band that has clearly studied the history of rock music. Their music is like a thesis project in which they incorporate the records that they love, yet never blatantly referencing any one source in order retain a certain uniqueness to their sound. The Velvets are just one of many influences that their songs point to — even that is often through the filters of The Feelies, Pylon, The Bats, The Clean, Orange Juice, The Pastels, Television Personalities and Felt — musical sub-genres such as jangle-pop, paisley underground and post-punk are also readily apparent. Their resulting sound is jangly yet dissonant, disjointed yet melodic; and as with most of the bands I have listed thus far, it might take some adjusting to if you have been raised on a steady diet of overly-manicured pop music. At first listen, one might call The Early Stages sloppy or noisy; but that is probably because their chord progressions, rhythmic structures and song architectures are not what might typically be defined as “mainstream.”
I typically avoid the lazy journalistic tendency to rely upon comparisons to other bands in order to describe someone’s music, but in the case of The Early Stages I think this approach might prove to be helpful. Their music is based on a musical lineage that has been hated by some and loved by others — that intense polar reaction seems to inherent in this particular sub-genre (a trait was inherited from The Velvets as well). So, if you like some of the bands I have listed in this post, then the odds are pretty good that you will like The Early Stages.
Considering that The Early Stages’ recorded output is somewhat limited — they have released four tracks so far — it is best to catch their occasional live shows to get the full picture. Their next show is at Beerland on Wednesday, March 28th with Easy, Tiger and Unknown Relatives (check out the Facebook event page for more information).