Pretty. Unapologetic. American. (Brit)Pop.

Revo-Lush by V'ron
Revo-Lush, a photo by V'ron on Flickr.
Saturday night had a variety of excellent musical offerings, not to mention the Sexy Results show that I'm really sorry I missed, if only to hear what Jim Warchol's doing lately. Normally this would be hard to choose, but lately I've been on this major Britpop jag -- I can't get enough Pulp, Oasis, crap, even the Happy Mondays are showing up on my "recently played" Ipod playlist. Oh, and since Sammy's been learning the merseybeat on the drums, yeah, my listening habits drift west from Manchester to Liverpool. So Saturday night, they drifted waaaaay west, to the Cactus Club to be precise, where it was a power pop explosion courtesy of Revolush, the Melismatics and Trolley. Where the heck else could I go?

Revolush answers the question, "Well, what if the Beatles had stayed together, hung out with Bowie more and entered a 70s Glam Phase?" Lead singer Tommy Hahn has Paul McPretty eyes that drill holes into you while flailing away on his bass. The songs stand up to this treatment -- they're pop, hard edged, almost Sweet-like, but they're built for top 40. Revolush takes the stage like they downed an extra large espresso from Alterra and jumps into it, whereas their CD is almost too perfect. In any other band, Hahn could be mistaken for a heavy metal or rock singer (think Diamond Dave, Jon BonJovi or even Ronnie James Dio -- he's got those kind of pseudo-operatic chops), but in this band he comes off as power pop, which suits the songwriting well. Even with a guitarist that looks and sound power rock, it still leans pop. And I like this live treatment. Like all the other bands on this night's bill, their recorded work -- while lovely and slick and well-produced-- is missing that element of sweat and surprise that drew me in for all three sets.

Melismatics. Pony.
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Next up, the Melismatics, a quartet from Minneapolis that have been on my "I really need to get out and see these guys" list for some time, and they did not disappoint. Ryan Smith is the frontman, but let's face it, his wife/partner Pony steals the show. First off, she's wearing a darling little party dress with her guitar, plugged into a Voxx, dangling around her neck, she doubles on keyboards and holds the whole thing together with marvelous attitude. Instant grrrl crush. As I told Brian when I got home, "She plays the guitar like me and sings like Roni Allwaise." The songs are also power pop but deep and complex enough -- in both music and lyrical themes, to keep me listening. Lots of great drama in the live presentation, too. Pony users her expressive face, sign language, guitar gymnastics, and Ryan is the rock that holds this whole thing down. Every song had its own little hook: a guitar lick here, a shouted chorus there, an onstage embrace, or a bow to the aforementioned Voxx amp. I headed straight for the merch table afterwards and picked up Acid Test and the new release Mania!!!and liked them, but like Revolush, I have to say the live environment is where this band really stands out.

pretty jangle rock
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Finally, local boys Trolley are onstage. And the words for them are Pretty, Unapologetic. I've written before about Paul Wall's unapologetic nods toward Merseybeat, and British janglepop. The jangle, of course, comes from the 12-string electric that half his songs call for, and the rest are on, as I tweeted, his really pretty 6 string. Actually, everything about Paul Wall is pretty, and he's pretty unapologetic about it: His guitar. His clothes. His songs. Even his wife. His band's latest CD, Things that Shine and Glow. He loves the power pop and he's pretty damn good at it. And while he won't even try to shake off comparisons to the original wave of Britpop (I have long suspected that he invites them!) this band actually shines and glows best when he lets the fact that he's an American creep in (the Nick Lowe cover hints at this). First, he's relinquished his beatleesque mop-top haircut for a Memphis-style pomp (that suits his age and the fact he's playing with an Americana band that's raking in the $$$ these days). I heard bits of Brian Wilson melodies, some alt-country, and even some sweaty Detroit Iron garage throughout the night. And that smirky stage presence and attitude puts a little salty into all this sweetness. Highlight for me was a gorgeous tune called "Ocean Song" that brought in bits of dangerous instrumental surf swaying over some lovely lyrics and an almost vulnerable vocal delivery. Driving home, I popped the Melismatics' CD into my player, and then went straight to my computer and downloaded Things the Shine and Glow from iTunes like I should have done months ago when it came out. It's been on my "Recently Played" list for the past few days -- and it holds up wonderfully on the car stereo, although again like the others, only hints at the reason you should go see them live.

This weekend? Well, it's Ted Jorin's birthday Saturday, and so the Dick Satan Trio will be bringing some surf to O'Keefe's House of Hamburg, and Dr Chow will be along to help celebrate, along with a third band I don't know a thing about, so I'll have a reason to sit up and listen closely after congregating at the Band Wives Table. Don't know how old Ted's turning and don't care. It's going to be a night of surf and psychedelic blues; a great way to send leap year February off.


Anonymous said…
DST's only surf song of the night was the noodlie ''Lonely Sea'' during the attempted bass amp repair.

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