do you love me?

Reptar – Amanda

Reptar are all bells and brass with their latest track “Amanda.” The video is the type of weirdo trip you’d expect from the Athens, Georgia band, but the song is as sweet as a peach. Their previous single, “Cable,” would sound great next to All Tiny Creatures on a mixtape, and Reptar’s debut off of Lurid Glow ties the two nicely together.

Reptar plays Madison, Wisconsin tonight at The Frequency – be sure to bring your dancing shoes because every time I’ve seen them it’s turned into a one big party.

Lurid Glow dropped March 31st. Find more tour dates here.

when you’re gone i know you’re with me

Good bands play a room the same way whether there is one person or ten thousand people. Dreamers of the Ghetto are a good band. Playing to about twenty people at The Frequency in Madison, Wisconsin on February 23rd, 2012, the band easily could have been on stage at a much larger venue. Their songs fill the room and when they relax so does their enthusiasm.

Influenced by the vaguely-gothy 80s, the music and the band members themselves have a somewhat serious front – there’s not a whole lot of movement on stage and one is more likely to step-sway than pogo to show their enjoyment. As the show progressed, though, things loosened up. After having to restart their excellent single “Connection“, keyboard player and vocalist Lauren Jones mimicked the last line of the previous song, an endearing move.

A major strength for Dreamers of the Ghetto is that they’re closer than the average band in their personal lives – Lauren is married to lead singer and bassist Luke Jones, and the guitar player is Luke’s brother, Jonathan. Drummer Marty Sprawls completes the lineup.  The Everly Brothers have had their impeccable harmonies attributed to their being brothers, and a similar situation seems to be at play with DotG. The blend between brothers, in-laws, and husband and wife is lovely. Luke’s voice is raspy and cavernous, Lauren’s strong, Jonathan’s smooth.

The Jones’s vocal compatibility was most prevalent on their best song of the night, “Phone Call“. While a strong cut on the album, it was more remarkable live. Rearranging on stage to crowd in among the keyboards, the members played off each other and relaxed. Dancing and clapping, they gave themselves completely over to the music. Jonathan had a chance to bring his voice to the forefront and it was beautiful and surprising. Luke’s ability to sing soulful high notes is hinted at in the recorded version of the song but live he goes for the gusto with great success. They could easily perform this song five times in a row and it wouldn’t wear thin. While the band’s overall performance could be tweaked here and there, there’s little doubt their continued touring will land them better and better bills.

Click to download “Tether” from their album Enemy/Lover, and click on either photo to see more shots from the show.

do you fall asleep dreaming?

A guest review of Cataldo, The Old Believers, and Laura Veirs at Madison, WI’s The Frequency on February 28, 2010 by Drew Mosley:

Cataldo opened the show with a really low-key stage presence while maintaining an intriguing lyrical style and physical connection to the songs. Alone on stage, Eric Anderson’s sound was engineered to elicit the auditory illusion of one man sitting in an empty auditorium amidst the reverberations of his songs. Self-accompanied and using minimalist rhythms, he played clipped melodies left to echo while he voiced the Pacific Northwest sound – a sweet amalgam of Ben Gibbard’s hollow tenor with the vocal tics of Colin Meloy.

Nelson Kempf, frontman of The Old Believers, opened unannounced and a capella, with the audience eager to keep a hand-clapped beat. An outwardly self-conscious stage presence and apparent lack of confidence did undermine some of the sweeter moments in his set, though what he was lacking in charisma he compensated with earnestness. On full-band recordings, The Old Believers vacillate sounds, at times portraying an unproduced She & Him while at other times sounding more like the poppy Ingrid Michaelson or Fiest. Kempf’s “Granny’s Song” addressed the audience as a love note to Mason Jennings in vocal style, delivery, and highlighted the similarities in song structure.

Possibly owing to the small amount of finished songs capable of performance without his partner, Keeley Boyle, Kempf brought merch-man Dhani on stage for a strange three-song set of mimicky slow jams likely pulled from the dumpster outside the studios of Lonely Island.  While the pre-programmed synth beats were appropriately syrupy and the lyrics were actually delightfully hokey, the delivery lacked the fake band’s straightfaced sincerity. Briefly turning from the audience in apparent overwhelming emotion, Dhani frequently smiled as if astonished the crowd had not yet begun throwing tomatoes.

Collecting the two opening acts on stage, Laura Veirs took to her catalog, adding Alex Guy on viola. The audience was enlisted as background singers during “To the Country”, and her inter-song banter engaged the crowd, fervent admirers of her most recent release, July Flame. Veirs’s best playing came when she picked up her banjo and purposefully cackled the Appalachian fiddle tune “Cluck Old Hen”. Her voice and technique easily lend to loose, raucous folk songs, a style she doesn’t aim for with the majority of work. Unfortunately, Veirs instead performed a set heavily weighted towards a mellow ease not well-suited to a bitter cold Midwestern February. The lowest moment of the set was a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again”. Veirs’s guitar playing slowed during the lead-in to each verse and it made me wonder why an accomplished artist would include a song she had not mastered in her setlist.