Peter Wolf Crier is a duo consisting of singer-guitarist Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen, and you might guess they sound like the Black Keys, the White Stripes, or other retro-minded guitar-drums duos. But Peter Wolf Crier takes some of the same elements as their peers — beat-up, vintage instruments, minimalist arrangements, traditional American music styles — and comes up with something different.
Pisano and Moen met in Minneapolis after playing in other bands and made their debut as Peter Wolf Crier in 2010 with Inter-Be. A couple of tracks were titled “Untitled 101” and “Demo 01,” suggesting that the band was still getting its act together, but in the catchy “Crutch and Cane,” they sounded fully realized. In that song, Pisano plays a one-chord guitar riff and sings earnestly in a high-pitched melody, double-tracked with folky vocal harmonies, on top of Moen’s jazzy drumming.
The duo toured heavily behind the debut, playing 100 shows in six months. When they released the followup, last year’s Garden of Arms, it sounded profoundly altered. The guitars still sound like obscure old arch-tops played through ancient tube amps, but now they have a lot more kick. The vocals still hit the high notes, but the songs are vague, haunting, and atmospheric. The drums skitter instead of shuffling. The roots-rock elements are still there, but everything seems to be run through a computer and rearranged like a puzzle. One reviewer likened the result to ambient electronic music, Berlin-era David Bowie, and Radiohead’s Amnesiac. The Black Keys may have mixed things up on their past couple of records, but they haven’t come close to this.
Damien Jurado also performs.
PETER WOLF CRIER: Soda Bar, Sunday April 15, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $10.