Critics' Picks

National Skyline

Sitting at home during a break from touring with his band Hum after the release of its surprisingly successful major-label debut, 1995's You'd Prefer an Astronaut, Jeff Dimpsey decided to write a 40-plus-minute song. Well, he didn't intend the song to be almost an hour in length--it just happened that way, and he didn't stop it. With his one song in tow, Dimpsey put together a live band, which included his eventual partner in National Skyline, Jeff Garber, himself formerly of another Midwest outfit, Castor. The group practiced the 45-minute epic and performed it several times, but it was just a side project, something to pass the time. But not for long: Around the same time, both Dimpsey's and Garber's bands broke up, letting the duo concentrate on National Skyline.

The result, a self-titled mini-album (seven songs, 22 minutes) released on tiny indie label Hidden Agenda, is "dreamy guitarscaping, undulating melodies, painstakingly programmed electro-nuance, and elastic rhythms." As concise and lucid as that description (found on a sticker that adorns each copy of National Skyline) isn't, the music Dimpsey and Garber make surprisingly lives up to the tagline. Recorded in Dimpsey's 24-track home studio, the disc is reminiscent of standing in a record store too long, a hundred different songs and styles colliding in your head. Using drum machines, keyboards, and samplers, as well as traditional rock instruments, the album touches upon indie-rock, post-punk, and trance but never stays in one place long enough for you to hit it.

Touring with ex-Compound Red guitarist Jim Minor, the band will also bring an impressive light show with them to Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios for their gig. All they really need, though, is their "dreamy...undulating...painstakingly programmed...elastic" music. Oh, and people to see and hear it: Unfortunately for National Skyline, the show might lack for an audience as they will find themselves competing with The Cure, playing the same night at Starplex Amphitheatre. You can bet anyone who likes dreamy music would rather see Robert Smith playing it.

Yuval Weber

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Yuval Weber