Mar 012012
Authors: Alex Hall

Looking at their discography, it might not seem like The Photo Atlas has really been up to much in the past five years. Their first and only album, “No, Not Me, Never,” was released in 2007, and of their three EPs, the first is perhaps rarer than some of Boards of Canada’s obscure back catalogs.

“We print out the cases and sew up the edges…but we hardly ever have [the EP],” said Bill Threlkeld III, the band’s guitarist, in an interview half a decade ago.

“I don’t even have one,” said Alan Andrews Jr., the band’s vocalist.

Yet the care this Denver band has put into that EP’s packaging (it’s called “Handshake Heartatta5ck,” by the way) is indicative of the care they put into their music. Drawing on influences as diverse as Interpol, TV on the Radio and Battles, The Photo Atlas manages to walk the line between frenetic punk and visceral electronica very well.

A Photo Atlas show usually leaves everyone drenched in sweat, especially Andrews. Yet it’s not because people are so indifferent that they’ll burn calories just for something to do. This band compels people to move.

Whether it’s Andrews’ frantic foot-stomping, Threlkeld’s knifelike guitar attack, Mark Hawkins’ dynamic bass work, or Joshua Taylor’s furious timekeeping, this band has a raw power over its audience. Stony-faced concertgoers with their arms folded are few and far between when this band starts its set list.

The Photo Atlas is playing at Road 34 tonight at 9 p.m., and Denver band In the Whale and Arvada band The Morning Clouds are opening.

While In the Whale complements The Photo Atlas’ aggressive songwriting, The Morning Clouds provides an interesting antidote to the high-energy punk that will undoubtedly be endemic at the show. According to the band’s Facebook page, principal songwriter Josh Wambeke “curls up comfortably in his bedroom, dipping into the same well of inspiration that guided everyone from The Ronettes to The Ramones to The Jesus and Mary Chain over the years.”

If nothing else, it’ll be a nice way to relax between two bands as energetic as In the Whale and The Photo Atlas.

Alex Hall is a vault keeper and DJ _____ at KCSU.

What: The Photo Atlas
Where: Road 34
When: 9 p.m. tonight
Cost: $5
More information:

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