Household Names (above) was charged with the task of starting off a Monday night at Emo's, which can't be possibly be anyone's dream come true. Judging by the sparse crowd, there were people who still hadn't recovered from the weekend's shows. The lead singer, Jason Garcia, had a nice voice, and their set went down like a glass of cool lemonade. They have well-composed rock songs, nothing jarring, just nice songs to refresh the heat of the night. They ended the set with their best song of the night, a cover of "Making Plans for Nigel" by XTC. This time Chris Peters took lead vocals and Garcia sang back up, resulting in a thrilling combination of charged vocals and guitars. If they can pump more of this style into their other songs, then I will be more than excited to see them again.
Hollywood Gossip (above) stepped onto stage equipped with a guitar picnic. Seriously, I couldn't stop thinking that the lead singer's guitar looked like French toast, and the bassist's guitar looked like a fish tale. Food daydreams aside, the group all started out of the gate at once, causing a messy overlap of melodies. The lead vocals were left way behind the dueling guitars, but on the second song "you're so quiet" the instruments found their places, and the sound gelled nicely. The rest of their set fell on the spectrum somewhere in between the sub par attempt of their first song and the balanced cohesion of their second song. They ended the set by covering 'Joyride' by Built to Spill, which only made me yearn for more from their own lyrics beyond generalizations about boys and girls. I wish there was more depth in the instrumentation and the lyrics, but then again, I've never had any interest in gossip.
Built by Snow (above) lead singer J.P. yelled "We are going to rock your faces off," and that's exactly what they did, in the absolute best way possible. They wasted no time leaping into action, darting around the stage, and radiating energy into the crowd. I was immediately hooked by the guitar riffs and playful synthesizer interjections, which came together perfectly in the song "Radio." It opens with a sweet guitar riff, followed by J.P., pouring himself into each word and each 'oh!' Other highlights were "Juliana" and the "Science of Love" where rock chords are pleasantly spotted with harmonies, and beats reminiscent of The Cars.
For those (like me) who are hooked on their sound, you can download their EP at the link, which captures the animation of their live show. I've had their CD in my car all week, and I'm stoked for their full length CD release in October.
Despite the dwindling crowd, lead singer Sara Radle (above) led her band, Calamity Magnet, with elegant poise. There are few people who manage to maintain a graceful air when they are rocking guitar, but she is one of them. Her voice was beautiful, especially in songs where it was given space to breathe like "Drive Over Pastures." Yet, given her talent, and the incorporation of promising instruments (flute, xylophone), there were a lot of puzzle pieces trying too hard to fit in the wrong places. This young band, just 6 months old, still needs time to mature and find out how they can best help each other.