The aesthetic of decay is something the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania wears like a crest. Where an industry died and left colossal artifacts of its ruin to rust away in plain sight punk rock raised its clamor of ongoing eulogy, wrote maps of tattoos on its people, and reclaimed the architecture with decades of graffiti. Still its foolish to think that the only realistic reaction to Pittsburgh's industrial ghosts lies in something so morose. Pittsburgh's Shade may very well be the modern torchbearer of space rock escape, living alongside the culture of decay, and yet somehow managing to resist its pessimistic fashion.
Inventive beyond their years, Shade are as adept at venerating their influences as they are at transforming them. Taking in Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow, the band's 2002 Psychodaisy debut, or ending up before them on stage, the most obvious reference points are, at best, starting points. England's early 90's psychedelic renaissance of shoegazer bands like Ride and Lush undoubtedly lives in the blood and headphones of these guys. But on the dirge of 'Marooned', vocalist, Matt Stuart is anything but pillheaded--let alone uncertain. His delivery recalls the most thoughtfully self-destructive promises of a young Elvis Costello--a characteristic reinforced on "Spider Rock", when Craig Stuart's whirring organ fill transports the northern soul groove back to the dynamo days of "Oliver's Army".
With a rhythm section like this, (Stuart's keys are joined by Brad Kiefer on bass, and Dave Halloran on drums) the low-end brings Shade's music to a crossroad of Paisley Park-funk and post-shoegaze rock and roll. David Woods' guitar rounds out the line-up, imparting everything from seagull-squall to Eddie Hazel-worthy f-punk graffitis.
Like latter-day Primal Scream before them, Shade's soul rhythms ultimately serve as the long-burning kindle to that immutable guitar noise, a heavy metal sound living in dancing shoes beneath colored light. On stage this relationship moves in better ways still. The hummable quality in any given tune from their debut all but vaporizes in a show of instinctive, and instinctively loud expression. They are one of the few songwriting acts of their class who take the tasks of performance as seriously as their compositions require. This is not merely the recital of a sound, its the spreading of the word.