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July 10, 2007

Black Beasts, Plane lands at the track, Pennies reunite

Friday, July 13Your Black Star’s newest EP, Beasts, is a six-song journey into a dark heart. For this, the band’s second short-form release, YBS traveled to Austin in January to record with Erik Wofford, the man behind the faders for The Black Angels’ Passover, and instrumental outfit Explosions in the Sky.Beasts flaunts all the qualities you’ve come to expect from YBS: Singer Jeremy Johnson’s guitar, which flips between wads of distortion and delay; Brandon Duggins’ fluid bass; and Drew Osborn’s intense drum style. But this time, it ends on a moody cliffhanger, “By Your Window,” wherein Johnson’s voice climbs high into Thom Yorke territory amid a spare, desolate backline rhythm.Friday night, the group celebrates Beasts with a show Friday at Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 634-4147). The Ladybirds and AM Syndicate handle warm-up exercises. Doors open at 9 p.m., cover is $5.Saturday, July 14Fiction PlaneFiction Plane singer and bassist Joe Sumner either hates talking about his dad, Gordon, aka Sting, or is completely bored by the question. It’s hard to tell which. “It’s quite interesting,” Sumner says of touring with The Police. He hands the phone off to drummer Pete Wilhoit to expound, gush, provide context, etc. “You know, he’s got a unique perspective around it. It’s just like another gig for Dad,” Wilhoit laughs. “It’s just amazing. I gravitated toward bands with interesting drummers, so I always wanted to play, and play like Stewart (Copeland).”Copeland’s blog comments aside, Wilhoit says the old farts haven’t missed a beat. “At times,” he says, “they sound just like they did on the records.”Fiction Plane’s new album, Left Side of the Brain, shows the apple hasn’t fallen far from the proverbial branch. “Two Sisters” borrows a thread or two from the reggae-rock wardrobe popularized by The Police, with the younger Sumner’s range mirroring pop’s work on classics like “So Lonely.” Brain was the latest collaboration between Fiction Plane and Bieler Bros. Records, which took the band in after its major label experience imploded. “They said, ‘Make a record.’ We didn’t really think about radio, demographics and research, what music we like, not even what style we’re gonna be. We just did it for ourselves,“ says Sumner, who recently completed the London marathon in three hours, 28 minutes. “You have to be insane and slightly bored,” he adds. He’s already training for another marathon in October. Fiction Plane plays for 45 minutes at Churchill Downs (600 Central Ave., 636-4400) before its after-party gig at Coyote’s (133 W. Liberty St., 589-3866). That show is free with your ticket stub.Sunday July 22Rock chameleon Pete Yorn returns Sunday night, this time for a show at Headliners (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Tickets for the 18-and-over concert are $25. Music starts at 8 p.m., with Ben Jelen and Minibar opening. We caught up with Yorn, a New Jersey native, and picked his brain.LEO: You’re playing one of the first shows in Louisville since our smoking ban went into effect. Does smoking bother you when you play live?Pete Yorn: All right! Yeah, we’ll I’m always kind of surprised: “Oh, they let you smoke in this state?” I tell you, it’s not so much a problem for me. I don’t really smoke. My bass player is an infamous smoker. He’s a British guy who rolls his own cigarettes. He manages to roll cigarettes while he’s playing bass on a song. He has some weird thing where he’s allowed to smoke everywhere. After this interview, forget it, they’ll be looking for him.LEO: What do you think of the iPhone? Are you gonna break down and buy one?PY: My thing is, I want a friend to get one so I can play with it. I’m not in any rush. The early things that come out usually aren’t good. I love Apple, but I’ll be surprised if it’s great out of the gate. I’m curious, and excited, but I probably won’t jump in and buy one just yet.LEO: You and producer Don Fleming made a record in 1997 that hasn’t been released. Will that record stay in the vault, or do you have plans to release it?PY: I’m definitely gonna put it out at some point. I’m just waiting for the right time, I’m really proud of that record. We cut 17 songs, and there were five alternates that didn’t make the record.LEO: You recently landed an opening slot on Crowded House’s first U.S. tour in 11 years. Thoughts?PY: I’m looking forward to it, and my band’s really looking forward to it. My bass player said, “I was going to ask you for a raise, but now we’re going on tour with Crowded House, I’m not gonna ask for one.”Thursday, July 19Jeremy Podgursky didn’t intend on letting his move to Chicago sideline The Pennies, which plays its first show in five years next Thursday at Headliners.He even tried to reform the group after he relocated, but scheduling conflicts stunted progress, and he found his interests in rock ’n’ roll being slowly usurped by other concerns and opportunities.“I found myself more interested in just observing what else was going on,” he says.“What else” turned out to be teaching piano and working for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile, 10,000 Things, which The Pennies finished making before Podgursky moved away, languished. “Over the course of the time I was in Chicago, the record was sitting in a mastering studio for over a year,” he says. “We were constantly disappointed with the results, and we went and snatched the reels and took them to another place. By the time I got that master, it was supposedly ready to come out, but it was another two years before we had the artwork together.”ear X-tacy Records released 10,000 Things in November, but Podgursky, who by then had moved back here to finish his master’s degree at the U of L School of Music, wasn’t able to think showtime until he graduated. He and Dave Walker, The Pennies original guitarist, started rehearsing with Rob Collier, the bassist for Century of Aeroplanes, and Paradigm’s Brian Healey (keyboards) and Evan Pouchak (drums). The practices stirred Podgursky’s rock ’n’ roll soul and thoughts about the band’s future. “I would hope that some core of this group of musicians continues in some way, shape or form, but we’re going to see how these shows go first. It’s great that they’ve given me this much time already. I feel like the future depends on how much we all enjoy playing these shows. If we continue, it’s not going to be about stress and tension. It’s going to be fun, and if anything comes of it, great.”Follow The Train headlines Thursday. The Invaders, a new project featuring Joe Meredith, opens. Doors at 8 p.m. Cover is $7. Contact the writer at mherron@leoweekly.com