Minimalist pop rockers Love Ink’s visual aesthetic is about as Texan hipster as it gets, but their songs, though short and simple, are strong enough to give them the substance they need. Vocalist Sherry LeBlanc is a storyteller. Judging from her in-between song banter, she could probably tell a story on any topic one could ask her about. The lyrics she writes are like short flickers of real life events, put to a driving bass line and some minimal, rather shoegazey guitar. Aiding the drum machine beats they used for their recordings was a live drummer, giving the musical pop flickers a stronger glow. Glasslands definitely felt warmer and fuzzier all throughout Love Ink’s set of short and sweet tunes, with singles such as ‘Leather Glove,” and their stripped down re-working of David Essex’s “Rock On” creating an aura like being inside of a Instagram photo.
NYC’s Shy Hunters went on right before, and were the best band of the night as far as raw talent and really rocking on. Singer/guitarist Indigo Street’s vocal phrasing while playing lead was seriously affecting, as she would wail into the mic but then step back for some even more impassioned solo riffs. Drummer Sam Levin had a simple rig – just a floor tom and snare with a hi-hat and ride cymbal, which more than sufficed as he also played a small synth with one hand through much of the tunes. I may have heard incorrectly, but I think Indigo mentioned something about their bassist only being with them for a short time, and they were looking for his replacement. Either way, I hope someone did meet the barefooted bassist in the men’s room after the set.
Baby Alpaca is a name I had heard in circulation, but had never actually seen or heard their music before. When they took the stage a bit earlier around 9:30pm was the first sign of Glasslands becoming a crowded house, and it was clear that almost all of the people that suddenly showed up were there for them. When guitarist Zach McMillan strummed the first chords of their set, I could have sworn they were about to play Bush’s “Glycerine.” It wasn’t, but I still got the feeling that he may have listened to a lot of Sixteen Stone growing up. That, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as another of their songs had a guitar line extremely similar to “Under the Bridge.” Although his musical style was heavily reminiscent to the 90s to my ears, McMillan had a stage presence more redolent of Jim Morrison; in both his exaggerated showmanship and slightly androgynous aesthetic. Vocalist Chris Kittrell had a blasé way about him like a modern Morrissey, and he was quite enchanting on the autoharp. They had people slow dancing to their slow songs, and cheering after the more up-tempo ones. These artsy dudes are doing something right.
Local openers Young Unknowns are relatively…unknown. They’ve got polished pop potential, as their single “Target Practice” is perfect for a late night rock club dance mix. This song will be featured on their forthcoming EP, You Are A Young Unknown, that’s due out October 2. Singer/guitarist Meredith Meyer pointed out that while they didn’t yet have music ready at their merch table, anyone who signed the mailing list could be sent a copy, along with her magic hot toddy recipe that is “totally worth it.”
Live, they sounded much like their recording, and maybe even more subdued. It was an early slot, and the room was scant, but it still would have been more exciting to see them rock out a little more. They were all dressed in business attire, like they had come straight from their office day jobs. Although the guys looked great in their suits, they also looked as though they didn’t want to risk breaking into a sweat in them. Drummer Matt Arbeiter was the exception, being the most animated and energetic of the group. His exertions led to his jacket coming off and his sleeves getting rolled up. Perhaps the whole band could stand to down one of those magic hot toddies, roll up their sleeves, and make some more faces, and then their live show would properly translate their songs. All they need is a little more rock, and they’ll be playing for more people in no time.
Young Unknowns have another NYC gig to get loose at, coming up at Mercury Lounge on October 22. Baby Alpaca are a little harder to pluck from the clouds and pin down, but you can look out for updates on their Twitter. Shy Hunters are finishing up a mini tour at the moment, with their last date in NC. Check out their video for Time Bomb. Love Inks have been touring extensively, and tonight they wrap up their current run in Chicago.