KNBA - KBC

Music

Bettye LaVette's voice illuminates the definition of a true soul singer. It pierces through the physical and awakens the listener's emotional core. A soul singer's voice is only amplified through experience, and as Bettye told me when we spoke, "I've got so much stuff to cry about, and so much stuff to holler about, and so much stuff to laugh about."

It's in the name: returning a place to its proper condition. It's in the logo: a house tipped on an angle, in need of repair. Restorations, now 10 years running, is named for more than just architectural stability. It's emotional renewal for the members themselves and for anyone listening. The band's self-reflective, true colors are just as loud and bold as the layers of guitars galloping through each song.

The Colorado Sound asked Brent Cowles to help us celebrate the station's first birthday. Cowles happily agreed and brought an all-star band to the party. Cowles had the crowd in the palm of his hand keeping everyone moving with mostly up-tempo numbers, but when Cowles decided to slow things down, you could have heard a pin drop. A silence fell over the crowd as they became mesmerized with the gorgeous harmonies and passionate lyrics of "9th and Lafayette."

It was Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day when this somewhat loud and sometimes frenetic band came to play at my desk. I couldn't help but wonder if The Messthetics would inspire some eight-year old child in the office to one day become a musician, one who'd go on tell the tale of seeing these D.C. legends at an office when they were a kid.

For Saintseneca, fatalistic gloom blends seamlessly with a kind of playful sprightliness: Zac Little's songs often simmer in a sad swirl of death and esoterica, but his deadpan ruminations are buoyed by the sounds of exotic instruments, candy-colored pop hooks and many points in between.

Southern friendship is all about porches. The craftsman cottages of East Nashville were designed for afternoon sweet tea and guitar picking with the perfume of whatever's on the smoker (these days, it's as likely to be tofu as hog) wafting by. Bars like Mickey's on Gallatin Pike have great porches, too — a famous local might come in for a cold beer and leave hours later in a new super group.

Welles has the look, the voice, the licks, the hooks and the attitude of a real rock star. His classic rock-meets-grunge debut  Red Trees and White Trashes  alternates between being big, chunky, bombastic and driving and also intimate, sensitive, quiet and reserved. There's no shortage of ballads and barn-burners.

Material Girls' glam-soaked, goth-smeared rock and roll struts and stumbles like a fish-netted pair of legs breaking in new heels. The punk ensemble from Atlanta released a promising EP last year via Henry Owings' venerable Chunklet label housing four songs dripping in danger and sweat, like a whiskey-swigging Nick Cave partying with Captain Beefheart.

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