These are three indie bands from three New York boroughs, all bearing various degrees of next-big-thingness. But none more so than Staten Island's Cymbals Eat Guitars (pictured), whose self-released debut, Why There Are Mountains, was anointed last year with a Pitchfork Best New Music tag. CEG has been widely compared to Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and Pavement, and the ties are readily evident. But the quintet has its own potent formula, crossing epic grandeur with snarly grit, guitars squalling over a stately pace, the odd lyrical piano interlude, horns occasionally poking in while Joseph D'Agostino's fevered caterwaul coos, throbs, and eventually explodes. On their debut, Weathervanes, Queens' Freelance Whales ply a hybrid sound that's part indie pop, part quirky post-modern folk, mixing whimsy, studied insouciance, and curious instrumentation that matches synthesizers, banjos, glockenspiel, harmonium, and guitars. With a preponderance of swirling synths, enormous hooks, soaring vocals, and large-scale pulsing rhythms, Bear in Heaven prove they've mastered most of the moves of progressive arena rock on their second album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth. Brooklyn-based but with Atlanta roots, BIH, led by Jon Anderson sound-alike Jon Philpot, mostly go for the grand, over-the-top gesture but ground it all in well-crafted elements (like Anderson's Yes) and a good measure of contemporary urgency.
Sat., April 3, 8 p.m., 2010