The Solace Brothers

The Solace Brothers

With Sleeper, Plush, Saturday, July 17

Perhaps most remarkable about the lineup at Plush this past Saturday was how commonplace it seemed--lately, there's been at least one show worth attending nearly every night here in Tucson.

Saturday was no exception: another day at the office for the fan of good rock music. A certain level of quality was to be expected from headliners The Solace Brothers, but what of Sleeper, a new band making its debut?

Fronted by former Twine leader Tommy Melchionda, Sleeper seemed to have the polish of a veteran band, but in fact, they've existed as a "project" for more than a year, under the working title of "Ladysnake." (That name was, for some reason, abandoned for "Sleeper.")

Alternating between outbursts of noisy power and quiet but busy interludes, Sleeper reminds me of a great angular guitar group like Shellac or The For Carnation, only not as vitriolic as the former and, ironically enough, less sleepy than the latter.

The Solace Brothers then took the stage for a dependably raucous set, playing many songs off their fantastic new LP, I Think of You. Newly shorn organist Dan Naiman was relaxed but on point as he settled in behind his Crumar, a Italian-made synthesizer that serves up the Solace Brothers' signature sound in fat, bass-heavy fashion.

This isn't to say guitarist Jon Polle is secondary in the Solace Brothers mix--he takes the vocal lead as often as Naiman. Polle's manic energy came through best on "Step Off" and "The Sound," both standout cuts on I Think of You.

Over the course of an hour-long set, The Solace Brothers struck an excellent balance between straight-ahead pop and sonic experimentation that's a virtue of their skill as musicians. They finished the set with a traditional classic made famous by Burl Ives--"The Big Rock Candy Mountain," a title they could just as easily give to themselves.

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