By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Like legendary shoegazing post-rockers Hum, Berry hails from the middle of Illinois (Greenville, specifically) and makes expansive songs that, at their best, sound bigger than the sum of their parts. On the six-song EP Empathy (which follows last year's full-length, Marriage), the quartet adds some muscle and grit to its fractured brand of dream-pop. Many of these songs toy with time signatures and employ stuttering rhythms, and the band never shies away from a chance to utterly destroy a song's structure. Lyrically, several of these songs toe the line between sexual attraction and repulsion: "$22.50/Hour" sings of a "second-hand part-time lover" (take that, Stevie Wonder!), while the next track, "Dirty," sounds like a filthy after-hours seduction on a bed of guitar squalls.
The musicians in Berry know how to wrestle rickety distortion from their guitars, but they often use keyboards as a stabilizing force. The barroom piano that holds down "Courtney Luv" adds an almost classic-pop feel to the song's multiple movements, while the final track, "Frantic Fly," is a culmination of Berry's best traits: fat piano chords bookend the track, a mini organ fugue sneaks its way into the bridge, and the tempo is steady enough for singer Joey Lemon to build momentum and shoot for the stars on a vapor trail of fuzzy feedback.
Berry's EP-release show will take place at the Underground at the Red Sea (6511 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-863-0099) on Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6.