Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apples and oranges

Before any more time goes by, here's a review by Jay Miller at the Patriot Ledger of our three-year anniversary (it didn't run online so I had to hand type this, sorry for errors). He got it right, for the most part: We were sloppy but the vibe was unreal. I just don't like comparing two local bands, especially ones that are close friends. It ain't a competition! But the opening and closing lines do just that. Ah, well.


They may not be quite as polished as their compadres in Girls Guns and Glory, but for a night of rowdy and invigorating roadhouse rock, the Cassavettes deliver and then some.

The Cassavettes celebrated their third anniversary as a band Saturday with a barnburner of a night at the Paradise in Boston Saturday before about 300 fans. Their pals from Scituate, Girls Guns and Glory, provided a sparkling 45-minute set of their own, making it a glorious night of Beantown's best young roots rock.

Led by three transplanted Texans - leader Glenn Yoder, guitarist Mike McCullagh and bassist Scott Jones - the Cassavettes have moved away from both their mainstream roots and the twangy country sheen of the songs they penned after arriving in Boston.

Although there was a taste of country still lurking in the background Saturday, the basic foundation of the Cassavettes' sound seems to be garage rock now.

There were places where the joyful energy veered a bit too close to chaos, and spots where the band - which includes drummer Matt Snow from of Maynard - could've been tighter, but the overall effect was hard to resist.

There was a definite rootsy taste to the opening romp through "Carolynn," and it was immediately apparent the band was having the time of their lives onstage, an attitude which was clearly infectious. McCullagh sang lead, with his impressive baritone, on "Ordinary Girls." "Madeline" also had McCullagh singing lead, a sort of lost-love ballad amped up to raucous rock.

Yoder sang on the tempo-shifting "Golden Fleece," which began as a sensitive ballad and morphed into pounding rock. "Don't Get Me Wrong" and "Trouble from the Start" were two of the night's most impressive numbers, with sizzling rock dynamics and big sing-along choruses, and McCullagh sang both with power and control. Yoder's best vocal was on "Lights On," his voice sliding into a soulful falsetto.

"Shotgun Wedding" was certainly a memorable tune, pop-country injected with a punky edge. The band's lone cover of the night was fellow Texans the Toadies' "I Come from the Water," a woozy rock sprint with roadhouse blues roots. The set finale, "Shine a Light," became such a rowdy rave-up that Norwell's Kier Byrnes of Three Day Threshold jumped onstage to play keyboards.

For the encore, Yoder sang the easy-flowing ballad "The Nadir," with McCullagh aping pedal steel with his superb guitar solo. That punk rock spirit resurfaced for a gallop through "Marie," and then GGG and a couple dozen delirious fans joined the Cassavettes onstage for the sing-along finale, "It's Alright."

GGG's 11-song set was ample proof the foursome didn't win last year's 'BCN Rock Rumble by accident. Ward Hayden's voice was in typically spectacular form, and country rock tunes like "Inverted Valentine" and "Beautiful Girls" turned the old rock club into a swirling mass of two-steppers. A furiously-paced cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" led to the set-closing, turbo-speed Western swing of "667." When the Cassavettes achieve the kind of precision GGG boasts, they'll have truly arrived.

With that, I'm off to Rhode Island to start my record tomorrow! Wish me luck!

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