August 24 — “Sing (for Trouble)” by Altos


If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sing (for Trouble)” by Altos (2012, from the album Altos).

As part of the continuing series on artists who will be playing at the upcoming 2012 Hopscotch Music Festival, today’s song is from the Milwaukee twelve-piece post-rock orchestra Altos. They formed in 2006 as a five piece centered around a trio of guitars. They’ve gradually grown in size, with a wide variety of instruments and they now describe themselves as “a surly high school orchestra”. Everything that I’ve read about them includes some pretty obvious references to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think, Dirty Three, and so on. I can’t say that I have too much issue with those comparisons. I would lean more on that Dirty Three reference than the others, but I won’t pitch a fit over the others.

The band used to call themselves “Group of The Altos”, but as they grew in number, they decided to trim the name to a much more manageable “Altos”. Their eponymous debut album was recorded in Justin Vernon’s studio. Daniel Spack, who is in Altos, is also in Volcano Choir with Justin Vernon.

If you’re playing along at home, it takes seven steps to get from Altos to Jenny Toomey.

Without any other goofing around, here’s today’s song:

“Sing (for Trouble)” by Altos

I get a tiny bit of Explosions in the Sky. I mostly get Dirty Three, though. That’s the comparison that I’d stick with. Once the vocals kick in, I’m also reminded of Efterklang. It’s the multiple co-ed voices meshing together and coming at us in those staccato bursts.

I love how the guitars will build up and swell just a bit from time to time. There’s a vague threat that it’s going to turn into a big, loud guitar thing. At the same time, the violin and viola bits do the same, threatening to take over and turn it into a really big, anthemic thing. It doesn’t quite do that either. The two contrasting styles play at each other a bit, until they both get their way there in the final minute. Something tells me that this is an amazing song to see performed live. I’m guessing that it’s the show-stopper.

You can get the three-track album from bandcamp by paying $5 USD (or more) here.

Altos will be playing Thursday night of Hopscotch. They have the 10:30 pm to 11:30 slot at Lincoln Theatre. In that same exact slot, Free Electric State will be at Kings. I’ll probably be at the first part of Free Electric State, then I’ll hope to make the second half of Altos.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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