Fog covered the stage at the Bowery Ballroom on Dec. 18 as Bradford Cox, in flannel shirt and vest, stood at the lone microphone with guitar in hand and harmonica in neck mount.
Cox, who goes by the solo alias Atlas Sound when he isn’t fronting the band Deerhunter, started with the title track from his excellent third album, “Parallax.” He built up the song with looped guitar and layered vocals that conveyed a sense of pain. It was an opener that silenced and entranced the crowd for the night ahead.
All the tracks he played from “Parallax” gained in the live translation as Cox manipulated the effects pedals at his feet. “Te Amo” offered a heavy five-minute intro with sparkling effects as Cox added drum beats and multiple guitar scales before breaking into the first lines. Almost 10 minutes elapsed as lights swirled and his strumming intensified. It was organized chaos that slowly evolved into musical bliss.
Each song felt like an audio collage being composed on the spot. From his 2008 debut solo album, he played the dreamy “Recent Bedroom” with effects that mushroomed in size while the stage basked in red lights. The altered state continued on the spaced-out “Modern Aquatic Nightsongs.”
Not all songs relied on effects. For “Mona Lisa,” one of the more poppy songs off “Parallax,” Cox let the vocal, tempo changes and harmonica do all the work. The night’s most gripping moment may have come with “Terra Incognita,” a slightly creepy tune carried by anguished lyrics and prickly guitar riffs that all drift into simple hypnotic “ooos.”
After completing his 75-minute main set, Cox returned for a seasonal “Artificial Snow,” followed by the drifting “Flagstaff” with a perfect segue into the closing “Attic Lights.” It was almost midnight.
Coming in 2012
Several groups have announced 2012 releases, including the seventh from Air, “Le Voyage Dans La Lune,” which resulted from the French electronic duo being asked to compose a modern score for the 1902 George Melies film. Veteran English rockers Spiritualized will be unveiling their seventh as well, “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” in March.
The soulful heartbreaker Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power, is coming out at midyear with her first record of new material since 2006’s “The Greatest.” Indie experimentalist Animal Collective present new material at some point in 2012.
There are sophomore follow-ups from UK minimalists the XX, English rock duo the Big Pink, and local hip hop artist Santigold.
For the month ahead, New York will continue to see the no-longer-reclusive Jeff Mangum for a three-night sold-out run at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jan. 19-21. Also we have the comedy duo of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein -- a member of the all-female rock group Sleater-Kinney -- bringing their hit show Portlandia to life at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Jan 20 and Bowery Ballroom Jan. 21. Both shows are sold out.
Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in January. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets:
Jan. 2 Xray Eyeballs/Heaven/Sun Ladders/Bloodflowers/Brother Reverend at Mercury Lounge Jan. 3 Little Feat at City Winery Jan. 4 Yellow Dogs/Jump Into the Gospel/Fan-Tan/Genghis Hans at Glasslands Gallery Jan. 5 Givers/Yellow Ostrich at Music Hall of Williamsburg Jan. 6 The Pimps of Joytime/SEE-I at Bowery Ballroom Jan. 7 Preservation Hall Jazz Band -- 50th Anniversary at Carnegie Hall (SO) Jan. 8 Calder Quartet & Andrew W.K. at Le Poisson Rouge Jan. 9 Liam Finn at Rock Shop Jan. 10 Royal Baths/Jane Jane Pollock at Mercury Lounge Jan. 11 The Lemonheads performing ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ at Knitting Factory Jan. 12 Chris Thile & Michael Daves at the Allen Room at Lincoln Center Jan. 13 King Krule at Glasslands Gallery Jan. 14 Girls/Real Estate/King Krule at Terminal 5 Jan. 15 Party Lights/The Jay Vons/The Naked Heroes at Mercury Lounge Jan. 16 Steve Earle & Allison Moorer with friends at City Winery Jan. 17 The Good Natured/Aislyn/St. Lucia at Glasslands Gallery Jan. 18 Rich Aucoin/Landlady at Glasslands Gallery Jan. 19 Jeff Mangum at Brooklyn Academy of Music (SO) Fujiya & Miyagi/Zambri at Glasslands Gallery Jan. 20 Jeff Mangum at Brooklyn Academy of Music (SO) Caveman at Bowery Ballroom Jan. 21 Akron/Family at 285 Kent Ave Jan. 22 Pissed Jeans at Music Hall of Williamsburg Jan. 23 Chairlift/Violens at Bowery Ballroom Jan. 24 Nada Surf at Bowery Ballroom Jan. 25 Wintersleep/ARMS at Glasslands Gallery Jan. 26 Cloud Nothings/Reading Rainbows/Jump Into The Gospel at Studio at Webster Hall Jan. 27 Aimee Mann/John Roderick at Music Hall of Williamsburg (SO) Jan. 28 The Gories at Bell House Jan. 30 Laura Gibson/Alexa Wilding at Mercury Lounge Jan. 31 Smith Westerns/Porcelain Raft/Bleached at Webster Hall
(Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)