Silent Old Mtns. - Again, the good folks at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel are amused by the amount of time I am spending in their club, this being the third straight night. And this Frederick, Maryland collective is not quite as familiar to me, but I hear much I recognize in this, the second time I have seen them. The one oddball member who percusses, sings backup, and hacks away at a few notes at a banjo is most familiar, as he engages in the same oddball banter that I have heard before. I am not sure of his value here, but it may be akin to the guy with the washboard in the Brian Jonestown Massacre from the movie "Dig". If this guy is the glue for the other guitarists, bass, and drums, then they may not want to mess with a good thing, as they have a solid presence in the crowded Americana field. Basically, they rock quite hard with full on energy somewhat similar to O'Death. They control the dynamics well between the crazy rock and the quieter passages, as well as engaging in plenty of vocal harmony. With some nuance, they could be the Low Anthem, but without, they will rock your rural world.
Neulore - These upstarts from Nashville have hit the ground running with this powerful debut tonight. They have a far more universal sound than most things out of Nashville and even the US, with a European flair that I hear in a lot of 'heartland' releases from German and the British Isles. I am also hearing some Big Country style hooks and singing style that is welcome to my ears, along with excellent guitar work, active keyboards and a solid rhythm section. I also hear a bit of Soul Asylum although perhaps a bit beyond their 'Loud Fast Rules' days (which most people didn't know anyway). Their choice of covers gave a good clue of who they like, as they did a respectable take on Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago". Aside from an ending which is becoming too much of a cliche for me since I saw Lost in the Trees employ it a second time many years ago (and have seen a few bands since), this band did it everything right and with spirit and enthusiasm (see below for the cliche). I am quite sure they will be back with most of the decent Sunday night crowd back to see them again.
The Lighthouse and the Whaler - I see on their facebook page they describe themselves as playing 'indie-folk-pop' but that genre doesn't tell you anything you need to know about a band. Well in that case, they play death metal. I think what they should mean is that genres are mere starting points. All three bands tonight are a good fit, yet have distinct styles and talents. This band is as talented as any of them, but I was struggling to get into their material as easily as I had previously. I thought their pop-rock was a bit cloying as they offered up catchy songs in the manner of a Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes (less the harmonies). Eventually, the violin and mandolin combination produced some flowing patterns that had me involved as the rhythm section kept it rocking. This Cleveland band has plenty of talent and a decent fan base, and probably will get bigger than I think they should, but with a little sharpening of arrangements and vocal patterns, folks like me would come along for the ride. No matter as far as tonight was concerned, as the crowd enjoyed it as much as they had all of the music tonight.
Quote of the Night: From Neulore... "What if we end our set by coming down in the middle of the room and you can all crowd around us."
How about not, unless you have a campfire near by. The stick of incense was nice, but not the same.