Staggering Statistics: Pixelated Ones and Zeros Review
PIxelated Ones and Zeros
John Curley knows talent. After being the bassist for the Afghan Whigs and logging hundreds of hours of studio time with the best up-and-coming acts at his Ultrasuede Studios, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that his band’s new EP is nothing short of stellar. But still, here I am, completely shocked.
Being outside of Cincinnati, I’d only seen Curley’s Staggering Statistics play live on one occasion, and I picked up their debut self-titled album. In the interim between that show opening for The Twilight Singers and the release of Pixelated Ones and Zeros, The Staggering Statistics have evolved. Due in no small part to their constant gigging, the band is tight, their songs more focused, and they have found a way to forge their own distinct sound. The new EP is a mix of rock and jazz, lo-fi and shimmer-pop and it’s an exciting, eclectic assemblage.
The one clear parallel with The Staggering Statistics and Afghan Whigs is that every member of the band contributes in a singular way to better the whole. Frontman and guitarist Austin Brown is easy to credit as lyricist and vocalist. His voice is unique, with the ability to switch from the sing-along pop chorus (“Wet Book of Matches”) to melancholy syncopated verses (“Disastrous Leanings”). Drummer Joe Klug is steady, providing mostly spare accompaniment with a tasteful flash here and there. Klug is confident enough to know when to settle back into the mix and when to push and create tension and pulse. His partnership and ability to mesh with bassist Curley is integral to the band’s success. Curley’s playing on Pixelated Ones and Zeros is in an entirely different style and presentation than his work with the Whigs. The ascending runs in “Lookout Cartographer Autobiographer” create a counter-melody that propels and perfectly complicates the song. Throughout, Curley’s interplay with Klug creates a special dynamic that accentuates the abilities of all three players.
A review of this album would not be complete without a mention of the packaging. Cincinnati artist Alan Sauer and the team at 75orLess created an over-sized matchbook with raised printing for a distinctive and fun pressing. It’s a strictly limited edition and the colored variants even more limited at 25 copies each for individual release.
Pixelated Ones and Zeros is more than a sum of parts. It’s the culmination of talents and personalities, yes, but it’s also the result of a lot of hard work. Like all good EPs, the six tracks are too few, and while it creates an exciting appetizer, it whets the appetite for the next full release All of This and More… out in the spring.