The party line regarding Pittsburgh’s The Cynics is that the band kept simple-minded garage rock alive during the mid to late eighties not just by reinterpreting its dulcet, scuzzball tones, but by running Get Hip Records. Matched up to the indie-inspired crop of relative newcomers to the genre over the last decade, it’s reasonably easy to discern a difference between those folks and Pennsylvania’s torch-bearers. 1987’s “Blue Train Station” announced The Cynics’ arrival, fully formed, and the album toted around more idealized notions about Count Five than most could fit onto a single album. “Twelve Flights Up,” a 1988 slab of the Midwesterner’s work, included all the tramped-up, tough approaches of its predecessor in addition to tracks like “A Basket of Flowers.” Common geek-knowledge will tell you that if your band’s set to cover a track from The Nightcrawlers’ catalog, a Florida-based group which only issued a few tossed-off singles during the sixties, it should probably be “Little Black Egg.” The Cynics, though, settled on the lesser-known “Flowers”—and replicated the ballad surprisingly well. Considering the squalid “Erica” and its ear-eviscerating vocals, Michael Kastelic’s ability to work up such varied approaches on the mic should be a surprise. The band, which is well-known for its lengthy breaks from recording, recently issued “Spinning Wheel Motel” with the assistance of Detroit’s Jim Diamond and his Ghetto Recorders studio. This deep into The Cynics’ career, there aren’t likely to be many surprises. And there aren’t, apart from the inclusion of a few additional, slowly paced numbers than have been the norm. Kastelic comes off as a bit aged, but he is. The Cynics as a musical force, though, haven’t drawn back at all—“I Need More” is as vicious as anything from twenty years back, as are the lyrics on “All Good Women,” and “Zombie Walk” offers listeners more than enough twisted guitar work. (Dave Cantor)
October 6 at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775, 9pm. $3.