In five short years, Brooklyn's Pela attained something of a cult status among blogging music nerds and underground-indie-rock obsessives. Then last September, the band abruptly broke up, forever entrenching themselves in conversations about tragic should-have-beens. Emerging first from the still-smoldering Pela rubble is guitarist Nate Martinez, whose Thieving Irons project borrows his former band's penchant for engaging working-class indie folk but leaves behind their towering anthems.
This Midnight Hum's multi-textured, starry-eyed approach and Americana tendencies could be Brooklyn's ice-cool answer to the dirty West Coast hippiedom of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. The album is a barnstorming collection of subtle chamber-pop folk tunes, merging retro sounds of pump organs and banjolins from the archive of Brooklyn's Temperamental Studios with modern-day instruments like cheap Casio keyboards and expensive acoustics.
Pela fans will no doubt recognize a familiar tone in Martinez's songwriting — the tumbling "Wave's Gonna Break" and the arching "Ashes on the Riverbank" could pass as subdued new material from his former band. And while those fans await endlessly the posthumous release of Pela's sophomore album, Arise Ye Sunken Ships, Thieving Irons are a welcome holdover.
THIEVING IRONS + THE LIGHTS OUT + ORANJULY + FAN-TAN | Middle East upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | August 26 | 18+ | $12 | 617.864.3278 or mideastclub.com