The Vinyl Lounge at the CW Midtown Music Complex welcomed around 100 people Saturday night to see four Atlanta bands do their thing and celebrate the EP releases of When Rocky Beat the Russian and Like Clockwork. There was something to please just about everyone as all four groups differ greatly from one another in sound.
One Hand Loves the Other were the first group scheduled to perform. Due to unforeseen circumstances (an apparent rift in the band), this was a solo performance by the band's creative force and vocalist Lou Rodriguez. Even though Lou had only discovered a few days before the show that he would be the only band member to attend, he refused to back out on his obligation and bravely took the stage with a microphone and a laptop. It would be unfair of me to review his performance (although it was a good one), so I will simply say that the group's sound is heavily influenced by trip-hop groups such as Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps, and Kruder & Dorfmeister. However, there are more classical music influences included in OHLTO's sound than most trip-hop outfits could ever muster. Lou is currently in the painstaking process of reforming the band, a pursuit that I for one hope is successful. He has a fine voice with tremendous falsetto range and an obvious desire to pursue his dream of making music.
Next up was When Rocky Beat the Russian, who were playing in support of their brand new EP Reason Your Way Out. If you had to describe this band's sound in one word, it would be LOUD. The band fits sqaurely into the hardcore, scream rock category but manage to carry a great deal of melodic content not exhibited by other similar genre dwellers. Mike the drummer is extremely talented at carrying odd time signatures and pounds away with reckless abandon while doing so. He also provides the more soothing vocals (if one can say that) for the band, which are counterpunched by Aaron's guttural screams. Aaron also plays lead guitar. Austin plays an aggressive rhythm guitar and tore his Gibson SG's strings to shreds by the third song. Monika rounds out the band with a well played five-string bass. The band played all four songs on their EP ("Genes Is", "Nosebleed", "Circus", and the title track) as well as a few others to fill out the set. To hear more and see upcoming show dates, visit their MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/whenrockybeattherussian.
When Rocky Beat the Russian performance rating (out of 5): 3.0
Like Clockwork were also on hand to perform songs from their new EP All Signs Point To Yes. I do not enjoy writing negative reviews, especially about a band celebrating a record release, but there is simply no way around it. The songs are generic at best. The lyrics are standard, driveling pop rubbish (example: "All the money in the world can't buy my passion..."). And the music is highly predictable and uninspired with no hint of a willingness to do anything but play what will appeal to the lowest common denominator of music fan. Painfully, that means they were the highlight act of the night according to the crowd assembled. To top it all, the band not only had the gall to cover The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" (poorly), but they even joked onstage that they had written the song themselves. I'm a big fan of incorporating humour into a performance, but you cross a line when you make a proclamation like that about such a legendary song, no matter how insincere you may be. The band has Atlanta roots, but have recently relocated to Los Angeles. In this case, that is a good thing, as they would be a total embarrassment to the Atlanta rock scene. There were several references to California in the band's set, so hopefully they are happy out there and will stay in Los Angeles, a city large enough to afford to carry a band of such epically craptastic proportions.
Like Clockwork performance rating (out of 5): 0.0
Although they were not considered the headlining act of the evening, The Judies (picture above) were the last band to hit the stage. Thankfully, they managed to turn the tables on the second half of the evening and rescued the night. Fronted by charismatic lead singer Warren Ullom, the band crafts interesting punkish-pop ballads that smacks more of the current British music scene than the current mainstream Atlanta sound. Warren also alternates between playing rhythm guitar and keyboards. Lead guitarist Ryan Pitchford is a quite stoic figure, which is forgiveable as all eyes are glued to Warren anyway. Michael Sprinkel also sported a five-string bass and filled his role adquately. Drummer David Miksch completes the lineup. There is nothing fancy or highly technical about the band's sound, but the songs are fun and witty and leave the listener with the impression that the band is much better than it actually is (an artform that will serve the band well in the years to come). It has to be said that the set was very disorganized, but that only served to add to the spontaneous feeling of their show and the group's intrigue. On what I am assuming was the agreed-upon last song, Ryan, Michael, and David left the stage, but Warren remained onstage and played a solo song accompanying himself on keyboards before being rejoined by Michael and David (and eventually Ryan) for one last song. According to David, the band plays whenever they are asked and often with little notice. Check their MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/thejudies) frequently for show updates. I also recommend listening to their song tiltled "The Nineties" for a good taste of what this band has to offer.
The Judies performance rating (out of 5): 3.75
Special Note: Also pictured above on the far left is former The Judies band member Ty Thompson.