During the past few years, Heads on Sticks—led by Birds of Avalon bassist David Mueller—has maintained an impressive output pace. Since 2010, he has refined his brash mashups of brain-melting indie rock and propulsive dance grooves, reaching a new peak on the excellent Phantasm in Tutu in 2013. That was the fourth year in a row Heads on Sticks mustered at least one EP or LP, an impressive studio run matched by an increasingly scintillating live band.
It was a bit surprising, then, when 2014 passed without a new release. But Heads on Sticks did put out new music last year, albeit quietly—a tour-only 7-inch readied before a string of dates in the fall. Now with an additional song added to the digital edition, the set is available to purchase through the group’s Bandcamp page. You can stream it below, too.
The three songs on Decision/Surrender/Landscape build purposefully from Phantasm’s foundation, pushing that album’s colorful and coiling melodies into the foreground. “Big Decision” might be the brightest and cheeriest song the Sticks have produced yet, with blasts from guitar, sax and synth punctuating suave rhythms and clattering beats; it’s a grittier version of the future funk St. Vincent envisioned for last year’s “Digital Witness.” On “Surrender,” thick distortion battles for space with spry jazz piano, while “The Landscape Vanishes” stokes its double-time momentum with tones that resemble a Sonic the Hedgehog casino level. The song’s ratcheting tension make the point of reference feel shockingly appropriate, too.
Heads on Sticks will play all three songs tonight at Neptunes in Raleigh. The 10 p.m. show, which also features Miracles, carries a $5 suggested donation.