A Sat. Nite Duets song is the indie-rock equivalent of a sock monkey - the Milwaukee band's sound is fuzzy, patched together, and almost as puzzling as it is likable. A certain offhand optimism comes naturally to the band, as do defiantly scraggly guitar leads, so it's become obligatory to point out they sound like Pavement (and also that they sometimes get naked on album covers).
Ahead of Saturday's show at Dragonfly Lounge, keyboard player Andrew Jambura discussed the band's latest album of smart-assed yet soulful tunes, Summer of Punishment.
What's the relationship between the crucifix, baseball card and creepy rubber mask on the album cover?
[Member John Anderson] went to this junk store in Milwaukee.... He just saw, on the same shelf, the mask, the baseball card and the crucifix, and he just thought that would be a cool picture. He's the kind of person who would just be interested in taking a picture of those things and not thinking it would be an album cover, [but] we thought it would be cool to kind of re-create that idea.
As the keyboard player, how do you use the piano parts to flesh out the songs?
If I do a part, it's just smaller melodies on top. I don't feel a need to have the keyboard be on the whole song. I feel just as happy playing tambourine for most of the song as I do playing a keyboard part that might appear more meaningful.
How has the songwriting changed between your first efforts and this album?
"Summer of Punishment," "Andy's Going to Heaven," and also "Off the Chain" and "Black Moriah" [don't] rely on funny lyrics or clever ideas. I think it puts itself out there a little more in terms of being serious, as opposed to all the songs being about feeling good or whatever. On this record, there's five people who wrote songs, but I think it works just because we all seem to be, for whatever reason, drawing from the same base of ideas. There's some kind of common vocabulary that ties it together.