Music » Critics' Picks

Ptarmigan Joe Stickley Blue Print

9 p.m. Saturday, December 26. The Gramophone, 4243 Manchester Avenue.

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If you pick up a copy of Ptarmigan's Our Ancient Friends, you may want to keep a hefty encyclopedia nearby. Not only is the Columbia, Missouri, band named after a relative of the partridge, its album features such tracks as "Thylacine" (a tiger-like marsupial) and "Pleistocene" (an epoch in the Cenozoic era). But like fellow erudite animal-lovers Grizzly Bear, the three fellows in Ptarmigan make smart rock music that is both comfortably melodic and sonically adventurous. The band treats the studio like an instrument — Friends' guitar symphonies feature cathedral-like reverb and plenty of white space — while sweet, slightly feminine vocals brush up against big-sky guitars and intuitive, inventive drumming. Joe Stickley's Blue Print headlines.

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