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Bent Knee

  • Frequency 121 West Main Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)
Photo by Chris Anderson.

Photo by Chris Anderson.

Boston art-rockers Bent Knee have been on a creative tear lately, after opening a run of shows for Dillinger Escape Plan last autumn. Less than a month ago, they dropped their fourth album, Land Animal, which is also their first on InsideOut Music, a division of Sony. But the jump from the independent Cuneiform Records (which released 2016's Say So) to a major label hasn't forced any concessions or diluted the band's utmost consideration for sound dynamics. Quite the contrary, as the tight songwriting on the record only seems to magnify Bent Knee's chemistry and significance as a sextet. Land Animal soars on its alluring interplay of organic and synthetic instrumentation, periodically embellished with melancholy waves of string sections led by violinist Chris Baum. This is particularly moving on the brooding "Insides In" with the second verse taking cues from Radiohead's "Pyramid Song" crescendo. Elsewhere, on the title track, Courtney Swain's quirky vocal inflections in the snappy verses yield to Ben Levin's dark, sweeping guitar licks, which enter as dramatically as they are pulled away in the extended romantic bridge. Perhaps the grand highlight, though, is "Holy Ghost," which begins innocently with Vince Welch's gliding siren-like synth drone and plucked violin scales. Jessica Kion's bass and Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth's thunderous, driving rhythm section then smoothly kick in, and the song unpredictably evolves into a technical powerhouse of progressive pop. In the past couple years, Bent Knee have played smaller Madison spaces like Bright Red Studios and Mickey's Tavern. This time, though, they'll be visiting a slightly bigger spot, The Frequency, where the nuances in their distinctive sound will benefit greatly from a proper PA system. —Grant Phipps

Earlier Event: July 20
Il Boom (free)
Later Event: July 20
Waxahatchee, Cayetana, Snail Mail