Catching early live gigs by Brooklyn’s Pterodactyl, which trekked the country with Parts and Labor a good ways back, onlookers were likely to be shoving against a tide of bounding dancers in spaces unfit for large crowds, or just looking on, kinda dumbstruck. The band’s first disc, a self-titled effort issued a few years into Pterodactyl’s career, belies the image of a bird surrounded by a swath of blue featured on its cover. Inside, tracks like “Three Succeed” and “Rampage 1” bristle with bassy abandon while sometimes-sensible melodies float out amid Joe Kremer’s lyrics. Always delivered in a sedate, high-pitched warble, Kremer functioned as the band’s pop sensibility early on. There’s always been at least a vague Sonic Youth vibe, and that persisted on Pterodactyl’s second long-player, “Worldwild.” Replacing some of the trio’s fast pacings and impossible-to-decipher lyrics was a distinct melodicism and penchant for harmony. The disc was a clear step toward becoming a traditional-sounding rock band—just one with its rough edges jutting out to remind listeners of an affinity for noisy compositions. “Spills Out,” the ensemble’s latest on Jagjaguwar, ratchets up all that was new about “Worldwild” while sounding like a more fully recognized version of what the band was working to capture on tape. “Nerds” opens with a brief instrumental passage that, if played at twice the volume and three times the speed, would have fit in with Pterodactyl’s first clutch of songs. It quickly turns to vocal interplay, almost sounding like a round. Pterodactyl’s advances in songcraft are so obvious, the Byrds might want to consider getting back together just to cover “The Hole Night.” Some folks acquainted with earlier work from this ensemble may cry foul, but the band’s development should be lauded, if not necessarily appreciated. Pop stardom doesn’t await these folks, but so long as musical maturation is enough for them, it should be enough for fans. (Dave Cantor)
December 9 at the Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, 10pm. Free with RSVP/ d.o.s. $8.
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