Constant Alarm - Second time around for me and although it seems like a mere couple of months since the last show, it was actually last June. June? The fact that I remember them as well as I do is a compliment to them as many names and faces and sounds blur together regularly with all the new music that passes between my ears. Their sound is loose jangly pop-garage rock styled that moves around a bit depending on the song. It is guitar, bass, drums with a female vocalist and plenty of male vocal counterparts from the bass player. The sound was not terribly sharp early on with low vocals and a muddy feel, but the soundman eventually got it sorted out. Their songs were a tad naive at times, but with both pop-garage, that is not an insult. The guitarist cranked out some nice riffs more often than not. I learned the bass player's name was Marshall just as I was trying to think of a way the guitarist looked like he should play for the Marshall Tucker Band (yet plays more like he could be in the Fluid or the Screaming Trees thankfully). They are finishing up a record and it sounds like they are working hard on it with proper studio work and mastering, so I look forward to hearing this. June looks like the probably release date. Stay tuned, as this little band should be on your radar. The crowd dug them tonight and completely outvoted me with their feet as to the band's closing number, "Twist and Shout". I am afraid that seeing and hearing eight different versions of that during a long ponderously edited Beatles movie I saw at a midnight showing has wrecked that song for me forever. But I liked the rest of the set just fine. They have got more shows upcoming so check them out and join the fun.
Maple - Second time around for this local band as well and this time it was just last month I reviewed their set. You can click on that link to see what I said then as not much has changed in a month. But things solidified further for me as will likely happen the more I see a band. They exude a lot of confidence which makes sense when I chat with them and find they have been together longer than I thought (about 5 years with a couple of them playing together over a decade). They confidently handle the vocals and play off each other in creative ways while never losing their grasp of the song. Their rock sound is one of the more balanced I have heard where trying to push them into indie or classic subcategories seems misleading. These guys rock out in an agreeable way that should appeal to most every rock music fan. The club was about half-full and was still having a great time on this Thursday night during this set.
Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun - This was the marquee attraction tonight and they wisely went on third as it is a weeknight and four bands is an ambitious challenge here, even when they start on time (relatively speaking--9:15 is pretty good here). A few people did leave, but there was still a nice sized crowd for this Atlanta quartet. They have a modern sound complete with one or two guitars, bass, keyboards, electronics, drums, and electronic percussion. They move around smoothly on their various instruments and do not pause much which is the mark of a band that knows what they are doing. They have a little of the Joy Formidable thing working, although not quite at that level of intensity. But the catchy pop moves come through amidst gutsy drumming, strong guitar and bass work with modern electronic touches that do not dominate. There are certainly some shoegaze elements in the sound, but it also hearkens back to really gutsy punk/new wave/pop hybrid bands as well. Plenty of beats and throbs have the crowd moving. This band can be ferocious while delivering perky pop hooks, a tricky combination that they manage easily. Fun times were clearly had by all. They say they tour a lot and their name is easy to remember, so keep their name in memory and join me at their next DC stopover.
Capital Ghost - This local trio worked hard to set up and get started only 12 minutes after the last set, but the 11:46 time was a bit late for many and only about 12-15 stuck around. That still is better than I see some nights here and the band played to them as if the room was full. And everything was copacetic as the crowd was quite responsive to the fine songs these guys churned out. Churning is the key operative word as the guitarist had a Bob Mould way of grinding out chords as the rhythm section kept a solid bottom underneath. The guitarist handled the vocals and the songs did have a common ground with Husker Du/Sugar/Dinosaur Jr and many others that rocked hard in the 80s. They do not have the complexity of those bands, but there is far more than barre chord rock going on. I was not so sure at first, but about half way through, they just kept grinding away and they won me over. Quite a night and proof again, that you can get some really good bands at the Velvet Lounge for a tiny cover charge.
Quote of the Night: The Atlanta band's singer looking up at the soundman before they started...
"How long do you want us to play for?"
"Alright, you got it."