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  THE ORPHINS w/ Parade and Annie and Her Guns  
  Cabbagetown, Atlanta, GA  
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I go to a lot of shows, even though I don't review them all. Most of the time, it's just that I don't want to think critically or ponder aspects of performance, as that oftentimes gets in the way of my fan-like appreciation of the music. Yet, every now and then, I come across an act that surprises me, and then I feel the need to talk about it.

And this was the case with the first band on tonight's bill: Annie & Her Guns. Hailing from Athens Georgia, this act consists of Annie Merkley, who sings and alternates instruments, backed by a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist with a really nice guitar, and another woman who began the set by playing violin. It may seem like an odd collection of instrumentation, but, in this case, the sound worked. Most of the time the heavily arpeggioed, upbeat guitar riffs combined with the interesting inflection of Merkley's voice to remind me of Bettie Serveert. At other times, as the set progressed, her vocals had an edgy emotive quality more reminiscent of Neko Case in her Canadian Lullaby years, or even perhaps a female led American Dream, back in their heyday. More importantly, the music itself was rich with layers of echo and tremolo. Overall, Annie & Her Guns have a pretty sound which seems fairly realized and fully rounded. I would definitely like to see them again.

After that incredibly nice set, Atlanta band Parade took the stage. I've seen Parade a couple of times the past year, and each time, they become better. So it isn't surprising, perhaps, that this performance was the best I've seen by them. At times, frontwoman Carrie Hodge's vocals combined with the searing guitar and drums to sound a little like Pylon. At other times, the band sounds more up and up New Wave, which is never a bad thing in my book. I also really enjoy listening to their drummer, and I think that at Lenny's, with its bass heavy mix, Parade sounds quite good As they continue to improve and play out more, I suspect that they will be a band to watch for in Atlanta in 2006.

And then, going on a bit late, were The Orphins. Readers of EvilSponge may note that, in general, I really really like this band. I didn't talk about them too much in 2005, because what else was there to say? They play angular, complex semi-New Wave music that is both easy to dance to and sing along with.

Now, in early 2006, The Orphins are playing primarily songs off their forthcoming album on Goodnight Records, and this is a good thing. The newer tunes still maintain the slightly off kilter feel of their earlier material; yet as the band has matured, the music itself feels more complex. For instance, Jen Wyrick's basswork stands out more than it used to, while guitarists Thomas Barnwell and Daniel Upton play off each other in a seamless manner. Most importantly, in the best of the newer songs The Orphins play with different rhythms and styles, yet the music continues to be both dancey and catchy. Personally, it makes me look even more forward to their upcoming album and future live shows.

After The Orphins finished, a fourth band that I like, Shock Cinema, began to set up. However it was a Friday evening and I have been up for well over 18 hours at that point, so we headed out. Nevertheless, I had one of the best nights in a long time. All three bands were impressive, the music was good, and the ambience, such as it is, was fun.

Related Links:

Drowning Cupid, the debut album by The Orphins


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