A rather low key collection of shows highlight this hump day evening. Choose wisely.
Bonjay, Sextape and Cutter at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio
Hailing out of Ottawa, the duo of Alanna and Pho is known as Bonjay. Supposedly the name comes from Spice Island slang for "good god." Whether that's true or not, it's still a cool story. And Bonjay's music is just as cool, an energetic mélange of dancehall, indie and R&B. Alana's got a great set of pipes and Pho handles the beats with just the right amount of fire and restraint. Such restraint is hard to find in the music of Sextape; the electronic duo from Denton has songs like "Lubricated Intimacy" and "Parasomnia" that wallow in a semi-erotic smuttiness that ends up sounding like Berlin--the '80s band not the German city.
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Never Shout Never and The Maine at the House of Blues
Christofer Drew Ingle is the (young) man behind Never Shout Never and, if the guy's music wasn't so catchy, you'd probably want to punch him. Being a vegan is one thing, but saying you spell your own band name differently depending on your mood is quite another. But hey, Ingle is just 20 years old, so maybe we can excuse him of his rather annoying naiveté. What is Love, Never Shout Never's debut mini-album came out this past January and is, at best, an acquired taste. Ingle can write a nice harmony and his nasal vocals have a certain Jonathan Richman-like charm, but the effort's major drawback is Ingle's emo leanings. If the guy would stick with straight pop, he may start appealing to folks other than mall rats. Arizona's The Maine is a bit of a better proposition, mostly because the band consists of five members that help fill out the sound. In any case, both Never Shout Never and The Maine offer better-than-average, by-the-numbers pop, done without a hint of raggedness.
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Redstone Hall, Jo Hell & The Red Rooster and Sweet Texas Crude at The Aardvark
If Los Angeles' Redstone Hall would have formed in the early '80s, everyone would have dismissed the band as yet another act trying to ape Elvis Costello. But nowadays, such plagiarism is somehow seen as decidedly hip. And Redstone Hall has the sound down pat, an organ-infused mixture of '60s soul and '70s new wave that features energy to spare. The band's debut EP came out in September and actually features a song entitled "Allison." No, it's not a Costello cover, but a strong original. If I were going to be in Cowtown this evening, I might just check out Redstone Hall. Austin's Jo Hell & The Red Rooster and Dallas' own Sweet Texas Crude add some authentic Texas twang to the headliner's retro stylings.