Davey Brown - Gritty bar-room blues rock gets things underway tonight. Good crowd for this record release party and they are enjoying the music here. Brown sings and plays a rock-like acoustic guitar style with bass, drums, and a steel guitarist who has more of a electric lead guitar sound than one of simple accompaniment. The 29 minute set breezed by, easy to enjoy, and featured good enough songs. Brown played a solo song to close and the only advice I would give would be to try to remember the first line without stopping and getting a prompt. But it made for a chuckle.
The Ash Lovelies - I have not seen this band in quite some time and the last time was quite forgettable due to a malfunctioning PA at a rather iffy venue. But the Velvet Lounge has the sound system and experience to handle a seven-piece line-up like this. The band features keyboards, bass, guitar, synth-guitar (I believe), sax, electronic drums, and a female vocalist who shared lead work with a guitarist. The drums were played live and sounded strong with all the instruments balanced nicely into an interesting little stew. It's hard to pin down, genre-wise, and that is usually a good thing. I would say it is closest to prog folk merged with alt-pop (whatever that is). A few songs click more than others, but the 32 minute set is quite the pleasure. And as the band Dr. Strangely Strange said in a song of theirs... "strangely strange, yet oddly normal".
The Letter Yellow - This Brooklyn trio came down for the show with a connection as the bass player used to play with Justyn some time back. The guitarist handles the vocals and they start off strong with a Dead Meadow-lite vibe. It is not quite as psychedelic but has some vocal similarities and a nice lilting pace with enough rock moves to perk things up. It is a bit in the Sebadoh style at times, too. They cover Dolly Parton and do a couple other odd things which are wrong turns to my sense of direction, but close on a strong note. There are some good things within and if they keep fleshing things out, it could even get better. But it was enjoyable enough as is tonight.
Justyn & the Babys - I finally get my chance to see this band at their CD launch (my review coming up next week or so). I've seen Justyn solo acoustic and he is a solid guitarist and interesting songwriter. The band format works even better as his rhythm section features a strong drummer and a bass player who adds a subtle bottom and some good backing vocals. It also allows Justyn to play some nice jarring psychedelic solos including a bit of freak-out beyond his long intricate rhythm passages. His lead vocals have a quirky 'real' music feel that I have said previously is a combination of Perry Leopold and Cosmic Michael. I'll toss in Terry Friend tonight, just to keep my run of ridiculously obscure references coming. The set had nice edgy moments that played off the overall smooth sounds. It is a good formula that should work for them as long as they can keep these songs coming. The crowd enjoyed this, although it had thinned just a bit from its 40 or so earlier (it was pushing pretty late). This was a great Thursday night show with solid bands and an attentive audience digging the music.
Quote of the Night: "They don't care if those 'ho's assault us, they just let 'em walk down the street, the bitches."... commentary from someone on U Street at 9:00pm as three blocks of U and Vermont were blocked off by police cruisers with officers breaking up something.