The latest indie buzz band to emerge from Teenbeat Records, the same D.C.-based label that made Unrest and Versus college-radio staples in the mid-'90s, Aden make music as cerebral and drowsy as you might expect, sort of like a more folky version of Versus. The band's latest album, Topsiders, is a solid set of smart, slightly bent guitar pop that evokes the likes of Big Star, the Byrds, and Steely Dan (Aden named their previous album after the band's dirty-old-man anthem "Hey Nineteen") as much as it does their many equally fey contemporaries. With the sweet, gentle, often falsetto vocals of singer/guitarist Jeff Gramm leading the way, the band is also vaguely rootsy, making room amid the intertwining indie-pop guitars for some Hawaiian slack-key warble, a few stray bluesy riffs, and some bluegrass banjo.
The band will be appearing at the Madison Flame on Friday, May 10th, with Aden-offshoot Currituck Co., who make the band's bluegrass leanings explicit, and locals The Villains. The latter bunch is a "supergroup" of sorts, made up of members of the Grifters, the Simple Ones, the Neckbones, and the Porch Ghouls. The band's pitch-perfect cover of the Bonnie Tyler "classic" "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is purported to be a show-stopper.
And speaking of Big Star-ish pop, Ken Stringfellow, one-time Big Star sideman and founding member of alt-pop cult faves the Posies, hits town this week on a tour in support of his fine solo debut, Touched. Fans of Stringfellow's collaborations with the Posies, Big Star, and R.E.M. likely won't be disappointed by the new rootsy pop selections Stringfellow will be offering up. And be sure to show up early to hear Stringfellow's Seattle-based backup band, The Long Winters, play the opening set. Listeners who like a little more crunch with their pop should dig the Long Winters, who evoke Neil Young, Built to Spill, and late-era Hüsker Dü on their impressively hard-charging debut, The Worst You Can Do Is Harm. Stringfellow and the Long Winters will be at the Young Avenue Deli on Monday, May 13th. -- Chris Herrington
If The Pawtuckets have proven anything, it's that you can make great Southern rock without ever referencing Lynyrd Skynyrd and you can make good Americana without imitating Gram Parsons. Another local group that proves this again and again is The Great Depression. While certainly influenced by alt-country instigators Uncle Tupelo and various Uncle Tupelo derivatives, the Great Depression mix country picking with big indie-style guitar meltdowns circa 1992. They also toss in the occasional rhythm stick, strung and played like a banjo, just to keep things nice and wrong. Their songs tend to be slow-burning odes to heartache, and straight-up rockers are few and far between. Even so, the band's sound is big enough to grab you by your lapels (should you be fool enough to wear such things) and sad enough to live up to their name. They will join the Pawtuckets and The F-Holes at the Hi-Tone Café on Friday, May 10th.
Also on Friday, Neighborhood Texture Jam will be at the Young Avenue Deli for their annual reunion gig. They'll join Jack Yarber's amazing Tearjerkers and a new group called The Inevitables. Don't let the name of this last group fool you. The Inevitables aren't a revved-up garage band pumping out blue-eyed R&B. In fact, I've never heard a more alt-radio-ready band than this piano-driven group. Their melodies are lush and complex with a big-voiced post-Vedder frontman issuing such popular rock platitudes as "Pay attention but don't do as I do." The Inevitables are quite the talented bunch, but how they fit on a bill with a couple of rough-and-tumble bands like NTJ and the Tearjerkers is beyond me. -- Chris Davis