North of Canada - A couple of my favorite local bands draw me to the Galaxy Hut for the first time. It is a place where many bands enjoy playing, but it is on the small side. Fortunately the atmosphere is good and the sound is decent, although it is a little murky and the vocal work seems a bit distant, although both of these variants actually make things interesting. North of Canada features a couple of guitarists who trade lead vocal duties and harmonize rather well together as well. The rhythm section is a quit propulsive and driving and the guitars work out some nice pop/rock, close to power pop hooks. The vocals carry more of the pop vibe, although there are some spooky things at work here. They remind me of a 60's band that starts in pop, but got interested in equipment advancements like Vox amps and pedals and such and rocks out there sound a bit more as they move forward. There are even a few psychedelic moments and with the distant vocals, I am reminded of the fascinating lost band, Fenner, Leland & O'Brien. There was another moment where they were channeling Dr. Strangely Strange, a band that started as another Incredible String Band but added Gary Moore on their second album for some strange crossover music into rock. When you merge genres, you can work up some nice magic if you do it right. I think North of Canada is on the right track there as the 50 minute set breezed by and showcased the fine songs they have come up with. This is definitely a band that will appeal to a diverse and knowledgeable crowd.
Caustic Casanova - I have been a big fan of the band and have reviewed them countless times (actually I have a record of all reviews, but am too lazy to do math today). It has been a while since I have seen them and there is an extra reason to see this band tonight. A while back, their guitarist moved many states away and although he is still a member of the band, it puts a crimp in their live shows, as they were a trio. The rhythm section had been playing as CC Light and they began the set with this lineup tonight. But, they debuted a local guitarist for the second half of their set which brought back some of their old sound. As CC Light, they still had the chops to be an effective band. The bass playing had always been intricate and flexible, so with a few more chords added, it carried tunes in rock and even funk mode. The drumming was also excellent but was even more dynamic with that added space to fill. But when the guitarist joined in, he captured that spacey psyche-alt metal feel that this band has always done so very well. He added plenty of energy too, and was ripping away nicely, although maybe a bit too much so, as he broke two strings at various points of the set--changing one while maintaining some feedback and sustain while the rhythm section jammed away. The last cut reminded me of Amon Duul II, although they ratcheted up the heavy. So the good news is to stay tuned in, Caustic Casanova is still a vibrant and welcome force on the scene and hopefully will get plenty more shows in 2013.
Quote of the Night: CC introducing their new guitarist... "We want to bring up a special guest. The three of us met while working on the Michelle Bachmann campaign and it was a special moment."