SHY CHILD with the SICK LIPSTICK, Fox the Boombox and the Boston Letter at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), Saturday (January 17). $6. 416-603-3090. Rating: NNNNN
The members of Shy Child don't wear white belts or speak with phony German accents, but somehow the Brooklyn synth rock duo have been tagged with the demeaning electroclash label. It could be guilt by association. They are based in the hipster enclave of Williamsburg and have shared bills with known electroclash offenders. Then again, it might have something to do with frontman Pete Cafarella's flagrant use of those goofy Roland guitar-keyboard devices.
Whatever the reason, Shy Child have been hard at work trying to clear up the misconception. They may have overcompensated, though, on the recent four-song EP The Humanity (Grenadine), which finds them widdling their way into prog-rock territory.
"On the new EP," explains Cafarella over the phone from Manhattan, "we went back to the sound of our teenage years. We weren't thinking about what might be considered hip. We just tried to keep things simple and let the music flow.
"The four songs we came up with just seemed to fit together really well. I don't know what the songs have to do with each other besides all being written around the same time. And I'm not trying to come off like, 'Sorry, I can't talk about our lyrics.' Really, I don't know what they mean."
The real surprise on The Humanity EP is the closing track, Stingray Wings, which sounds like it could've been an outtake from Rush's 2112. It's not quite what you'd expect from Brooklyn-based Wesleyan alumni schooled in free jazz by Anthony Braxton. Yet after hearing his music referred to as electroclash for the last couple of years, Cafarella's willing to take the Rush comparison as a compliment.
"Rush was a big influence for me. I always thought that 2112 album was awesome. I know quite a few people don't think Rush are cool - including the two people I live with - but lately I think they're being appreciated more. The stuff the Mars Volta are doing is straight-up Rush."
"When you listen to a lot of punk rock, it can get pretty boring. Prog is the next step. It allows you to wank out on your instrument a lot more, and both Nate (drummer Nate Smith) and I are into that. It's a lot more fun than playing the same riff over and over."
So what's next, a triple-album salute to The Lord Of The Rings perhaps?
"I'd really, really love to do something like that, but I think Led Zeppelin beat us to it. And anyway, our label won't put our stuff out on vinyl.
"We have all the songs ready to go for the next album, but I'm not sure yet when we'll get a chance to record them or what the title might be. It's going to sound a lot different from the EP. The songs will be shorter and sound less like Rush. Well, maybe a little less."