Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Rock Shows of Note XXVIII
This past weekend brought two awesome shows. Friday night, I met Jef and Steph at TT the Bear's before heading over to T-Dev's old house in Somerville for his going-away party. He and Highwater Books are moving to New York. Or have moved, I guess. At TT's, I caught most of a solo set by Emily Sparks, who played a sleepy-Sunday selection of pop songs. She's got quite the singing voice and even whistled during one piece. While I couldn't catch all of her lyrics, most of the songs seemed to be about self-confidence, relationships, and similar topics. She's got an album coming out soon and plans to go on tour later this year.

Seana Carmody, formerly of the Swirlies, also has a CD to be released soon. She played with a trio Friday night, building on her shoegazing jangle-pop past. At times, her post-Syrup USA "fantasy rock" reminded me of Mary Timony, but Seana's not all puppies and snails. Her singing style wavered between the plaintive and the aggressive, and the set ended with a nice, prolonged bit of noise and amplifier feedback. Looking forward to the record!

Fast forward -- or rewind, given that today's Tuesday -- to Saturday night. I almost didn't go to this show because Jamaica Plain felt so far away, but around 10 p.m. or so, I decided that I should cab to the Midway Cafe to see Nod, Naughty Shirley, My Own Worst Enemy, and the new band organized by Steve Lawrence (ex-Car Models Blue). I caught just the very end of Nod's set and didn't hear enough to comment. Naughty Shirley quickly took the stage, and having seen them previously, I was much more impressed this time. A guitar-drums duo involving Slamber of Pelvic Circus, the band struck me as an energetic act akin to many of the scaled-down K Records bands. I enjoyed the drummer's work immensely, and the guitarist had some nice spazzy, jump-around moments. She even stepped off the stage and walked into the audience at one point. A much stronger impression than the one made when I saw them a month-plus ago.

My Own Worst Enemy, however, didn't really impress me. Scan commented that the band almost sounded like two bands, and I'm tempted to agree. The best, most energetic, and most melodic songs were led by Steve Prygoda -- who shared some excellent pop-punk ditties. Otherwise, the music didn't really connect with me. And the drummer, who's the spitting image of Kenny G, was slightly irritating in that Berklee School of Music kind of way. Half and half on this one.

Lastly -- and late, late, late -- Steve Lawrence, formerly of Car Models Blue. This was a bit of a triumphant return to the stage for Steve, who -- after Car Models Blue disbanded and their still in-process recording project dragged on and on -- hasn't played live for eight months or so. For this show, he enlisted a bunch of friends to play with him; I think they practiced once earlier in the week. So the show was slightly strange. Steve writes Brian Wilson-inspired pop songs, many of them quite impressive and orchestral in scope. But the sense that this was his show and that the band was secondary and temporary was strong. I'd like to see Steve play with a full, full-time band again. I think the coherence would be helpful. But as it was, I appreciated hearing the new songs -- and being able to share the night with Steve and friends. Now, finish that CD!

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