Essential New Music: Antietam’s “Pitch & Yaw”

Punk has meant a lot of things to a lot of people. For Antietam, the New York-based, Louisville-bred trio of Tara Key, Tim Harris and Josh Madell, it has meant doing things just the way they want, when they want. This has translated into a comet-like pattern of lengthy absences and bright, brief appearances. Still, Antietam isn’t totally immune to time, and the 40th anniversary of Harris and Key’s departure from Kentucky, which precipitated the formation of the band, has shaken loose this four-song digital EP.

The essential elements of Antietam’s sound are intact; the rhythms remain loose, the surge in Key’s electric-guitar tone still hints at potential supernovas, and her and Harris’ singing still finds defiant power in vulnerability. But their option to take their time means that there are details to be found squirreled away in the songs’ remote regions. A drum pattern suddenly slips backward for a couple beats. Vibes and acoustic guitar brighten uplift a ragged progression. A horn swells up from the depths. Sonically adventurous and emotionally true, Pitch & Yaw feels like a welcome missive from old friends. [Motorific Sounds]

—Bill Meyer