On the Town

Even if it is part of your job description, we wouldn't recommend going out nine nights in a row, and certainly wouldn't suggest that liquor and cigarettes be involved for the duration. That said, we recently did just that, and though we sound (and, dear Lord, look) like Bea Arthur right now, we did learn a few interesting things.

After almost a year off, LCC is better than ever. Don't bother spelling it out anymore: "I got sick of typing out Legendary Crystal Chandelier all the time and everyone calls us LCC anyways," singer-guitarist-songwriter Peter Schmidt says, referring to the slight name change. But the group's first real gig since last November, opening for Interpol at Gypsy Tea Room on September 23, proved that a name change was in order; after all, it certainly seemed like a different band. With new drummer Kevin Bybee on board, Schmidt, guitarist James Henderson and bassist Mark Hughes unveiled half a dozen new songs, and the handful of older songs LCC played (all off 1998's debut, Love of the Decimal Equivalent) sounded fresher than they had in years. Not to mention the fact that Schmidt finally looked like he was having fun again, spinning around onstage, banging into Henderson with his guitar or body or both, losing himself in the music for the first time since Clark Vogeler and Will Johnson were up there with him. Schmidt originally planned to keep LCC off club calendars until a new album was completed, but he's switched strategies, deciding to hone the new tunes (he's written 25 or so) live before venturing into a studio with them. You can see LCC do just that on October 4, when they play at Muddy Waters with Pleasant Grove.

Sorta is the best band you're not listening to. And why aren't you, exactly? Laugh Out Loud, Sorta's first full-length (following last year's Plays for Lovers EP), hits the sweet spot between Pleasant Grove's amplified quiet and Wilco's Being There, though it stands up just fine on its own. Released by Summer Break Records a coupla weeks ago, the disc is the sound of a good band getting great, wrapping rock in roll, country in heart and soul. Best example is the almost-seven-minute "Chinese Feet"--"our epic," says bassist-singer Danny Baylis--which comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion, built around singer-guitarist Trey Johnson sing-screaming, "What it seems like/Wasn't always what it was." The band's early set was a good lead-in to Wilco's standout, sell-out show at the Tea Room on September 26, maybe more so than the official opening act, North Carolina's Tift Merritt, who was kinda like the female answer to Ryan Adams, only without the liquor and smoking and other things that make him more interesting. Pick up a copy of Laugh Out Loud and see Sorta (which also includes drummer Trey Carmichael and guitarist-keyboard player Carter Albrecht) for yourself at the Liquid Lounge on October 12, with Goudie and Blue Sky Black.

Darlington is better with the sound down. Happened upon this notion somewhat by accident: We went to a little birthday shindig at Barley House and ended up sticking around to see Darlington. But it wasn't the same band we've seen off and on for what seems like a decade. The members were the same--singer-guitarist Christy Darlington, drummer Steve Visneau, guitarist Dylan Silvers and bassist Omar Yeefoon--and so were the songs. And yet, it was completely different, the presentation changing what was being presented. The group played electric without distortion, joined on a few songs by Jim Lehnert's saxophone. In the past, Darlington has always tried to be your favorite sock-hop band; on September 22, they actually were. Louder Than Morrissey, the group's new record--well, new to the United States, at least--hits stores on October 15.

The Sons of Sound are much better than we remember. Not that we ever thought The Sons of Sound were bad, necessarily, because we didn't. We just weren't very impressed the last (and only) time we saw these guys, and maybe that's because it was one of their first gigs. Hard to hold that against 'em. Almost two years later, we gave it another shot (at The Cavern on September 28), and it's made us wonder if we weren't getting that unimpressive first gig mixed up with another band. Because these guys--Josh, Chris, T.J., Tommy and Chad--have some good songs and even more fun. Kinda split the difference between The Kinks and Television, at least that's what we heard last weekend. (Or thought we did.) Not sure when they're playing again, but keep an eye and ear out.

We are functioning alcoholics.

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