They call themselves the Mashtis: Itai Faierman is back with a new band after a four-year hiatus. Before he took off, Faierman spent a lot of time on the local singer-songwriter stages, combining his intricate songs with Jeff Buckley–like wailings that were steeped in a syrup of coffeehouse Buddha-love. Back then, Faierman’s singing roamed around like a dog off its leash. Well, those days are over. His new songs are rock-steady simple. And, at least for the live gigs, he has traded his acoustic guitar for a Gibson solid body and a tube amp, the rock-and-roll equivalent of the muscle car. Even though Faierman’s new CD Sunbed Tapes is a whispery acoustic collection, Mashtis drummer Neil Bociek puts a solid thump in the live works, and by dint of sheer volume, he elevates Faierman’s songs to alt-rock level. Maybe Faierman always was a closeted rocker, but it naturally follows that with a drummer onboard, everybody has to play louder.
Prior to forming the Mashtis, Faierman and Bociek experimented with a Sonic Youth–inspired art-noise band that ultimately went nowhere but that forged the connection that would be revisited when Faierman emerged earlier this year with fresh ideas and a couple of recordings. The turn to simplicity, he says, comes from being grounded. “And, look at the Beatles,” Faierman says. “A song can have only three chords and still be a great song.” Indeed, it can. There are footnotes to the Beatles (and Elliot Smith) all over Faierman’s songs. The wild card in the new band is Erica Putis, who plays her electric bass guitar more like a lead instrument. But, why the Mashtis? Putis says they were in Hollywood and saw an ice-cream shop, Mashti Malone’s, after which the name became somewhat of an obsession. “When we saw that place, we started calling each other Mashti One, Mashti Two. Stuff like that.”
THE MASHTIS: The Ruby Room, Thursday, October 22, 8:30 p.m. 619-299-7372.