Pomegranates brings imaginative rock to the café

Tom Pilcher

(Alex Kohnstamm)

Cincinnati-based indie rock band Pomegranates delivered a healthy dose of sunny pop goodness to our snow-riddled campus Saturday, Jan. 16, making the trudge over to the Warch Campus Center Café worthwhile.
The relatively young band released its joyously titled second record “Everybody Come Outside!” last April on Lujo Records, which prompted the popular music magazine Spin to declare the band “a youthful, open-eared quartet enlivened with a kick-ass record collection, ceiling-less imagination, ragged guitars, and songwriting chops for days.”
The band recorded the album with TJ Lipple, a producer known for his work with indie-pop heavyweights Headlights and synth-pop duo MGMT.
“Everybody Come Outside!” is full of reverberant guitars and vocals that invoke nostalgic images of seasons past, but not sadness for their passing; rather, the band inspires optimism as the band members harmonize about “sailing away on a red balloon” in “Tesseract,” one of the band’s many highlights.
The song features a wonderful contrast between the jagged post-punk rhythms of the bass and drums and the melodic, atmospheric guitar melodies that float over the top of the mix, part of the band’s signature sound.
The band’s wonderful dynamic contrasts from the record also translated well in the live setting. Where other bands have used digital editing to add dynamics to songs on the record and then played the songs at one loud dynamic live, Pomegranates demonstrated an impressive range of dynamics throughout the group’s set.
The songs contained numerous unexpected turns that found the band jumping from the full two-guitar, bass and drums sound down to vocals accompanied by atmospheric guitar.
Drummer Jacob Merrit even defied the rock drummer stereotype of always playing loud, especially on the song “Coriander,” as he moved from hushed eighth-note builds played only on the outer edge of the floor tom to a jubilant, catchy groove that locked in perfectly with main bass player Joey Cook.
Besides dynamic contrast, lead singer Cook, guitar and keyboard player Isaac Karns and guitar player Joshua Kufeldt all displayed an interesting mix of vocal ranges, which helped the band produce its interesting harmonic mix.
Cook alternates between a high-pitched warble and an excited-yet-musical yelp, while Karns and Kufeldt anchor the lower end of the spectrum with their more straightforward yet unique vocals.
During the band’s set, Pomegranates introduced the crowd to many new, unreleased songs that picked up right where “Everybody Come Outside!” left off. Pomegranates typically eschews the standard “verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus” format for more interesting arrangements, which the quartet highlighted Saturday with the “Everybody Come Outside!” standout track “Beachcomber.”
The song begins with a high guitar melody anchored by a tom-heavy drum part that ends quickly, leaving open space before a low piano melody floats in.
From there, the tune takes off into a quieter double time feel that grows in dynamic as each new instrument is added, before the band dials down into a bass-heavy stomp.
As this groove peters out, the listener is left with faintly ringing guitars before a powerful wordless coda arrives unexpectedly to end the song.
Minneapolis-based openers Lookbook performed well too, winning over many new fans with their catchy brand of electronic pop that combined the noisier elements of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with Postal Service-style beats.
Though slightly hidden by distortion and delay, lead singer Maggie Morrison displayed an impressive and versatile voice that at times evoked Caithlin De Marrais of Rainer Maria.
The next concert presented by the Band Booking Committee in the café will be Feb. 6 and will feature New York indie band Bishop Allen.

(Alex Kohnstamm)

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