Dead Professional - This punk sounding band is actually quite simply just one guy--John, the guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who plays electric guitar atop some light rhythm section recordings. The backing is quite subtle and offers just enough heft without ever calling attention to itself. And that works out fine, as the guitar work is heavily atmospheric with a nice crunch to the chords and a light spacey flowing feel as well. His vocals are clean, clear without the usual pretense. The songs have a bit of a pop melody to them and are both comfortable and fulfilling. And if that was not enough, he has great personality and established a fine rapport with the crowd who rightly enjoyed his set. He gigs around pretty regularly so keep your eye open for the next show as he will make any bill a whole lot better.
The Anatomy of Frank - From nearby Charlottesville comes this intriguing quintet that knows how to build a set of music. They started up with acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, keyboards, bass and drums. Although the crowd was rather small on this rainy cold Wednesday night, I thought the band may fall into the trap of being too quiet as they laid out delicate vocals and dramatic instrumental shifts to solo acoustic guitar or glockenspiel. Yet, the qualities of the song and the drama of the presentation quieted the conversations and pulled everyone in. As they continued they got more electric with two electric guitars powering forward and with the keyboards and soaring vocal work, they reminded me of Antony and the Johnsons. Although, by set's end they really brought out some loud numbers as they continued to climb the hills of volume and power. This is one accomplished band that could be a strong player on the indie rock scene.
Osage - I saw this band once before, when they were called the Post. I am glad I did not revisit my review before this show (I almost never do) as I had forgotten their unique manner of pairing of dark and murky guitar and bass sound working below keyboards and strong vocals. Front and center is the strong vocal work that sounds like a rootsier Chissie Hynde. Underneath that the keyboards at times will move up to take a lead role or can work back adding atmosphere depending on the song. The three guys on guitar, bass, and drums have a laid back approach that keeps things steady, yet they somehow manage to be both aloof and integrated. I even hear something of Piirpauke in some of their songs (there, I've gotten my required fix of naming an obscure artist in at least one review per week). If you enjoy challenges and like music that has garage pop moves along with plenty of roots, you should definitely give this band a listen. They have something good going on.
Quote of the Night: courtesy of Dead Professional...
DP (to audience) - How does it sound?
Soundman (to DP in PA) - Why do you have to ask?
DP - Oh, of course--doesn't it sound good here at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel? That is what I meant to say.