Tonight: Second Lovers Hit the House of Blues (And So Should You)
Alright, so there’s a big, big pile of no-shit, truly-awesome stuff happening tonight — Friday, May 1st, that is. Before you make your evening plans & such, though, I wanted to point up one show in particular as being eminently worthy of consideration, I didn’t want to miss the boat.
See, this evening the House of Blues plays host to H-town’s own Second Lovers, who’ve grown over the past few years now into one of my hands-down, absolute-favorite roots-rock bands, and I don’t just mean locally. They grabbed hold of me pretty solidly with 2012’s Wishers, Dreamers & Liars, with Nico Morales‘ melancholy, sharp-edged vocals and some excellent duets with now-former-band member Ashley Parker.
Then 2013’s EP release New Mexico showed the band was, if anything, growing tighter and more self-assured in their songwriting. They seemed less afraid to branch out into more overtly “rock” sounds (see the Springsteen-meets-Nickel Creek “Alright” for proof of that) and more, well, more happy, if that makes any sense. It felt like the Second Lovers were realizing that as a band, they really could do whatever the hell they wanted and make it work.
Two years on, and the band’s been hard at work in the studio, recording a forthcoming new album with John Allen Stephens of the band-friends New York City Queens (who, judging by his own band’s recorded output, knows his way around a mixing board), and they were kind enough to give me a peek at a couple of their in-progress tracks.
It’s funny, because while I just praised the band’s first album and their sound back then, hearing where they’re at now makes me grin like a big, dumb idiot. Following somewhat the blueprint put forth on New Mexico, Morales and his bandmates (who are Chelsea Renee, Josh Hammond, Sean Spiller, John Maxwell, and Thom Truver, these days) have left the country-folk stuff even further back down the dusty, windswept road, bringing only the parts they need to get them on their way and soldering them onto a framework of rootsy, melodic, heartfelt, almost joyful-sounding rock.
On “Hold On,” the Second Lovers come tearing down the road, with distorted, indie-rock-ish guitars, insistently-driving drums, a subtly Motown-sounding bassline, and a chorus that’s fun as hell to yell along with in the car. It’s full of hope and promise that as long as the song’s protagonists can stay together, everything will be okay in the end, and by the time the song comes to a close, yeah, you’ll be convinced, too.
Then there’s “Corner Store,” which features an awesome back-and-forth between Morales and newish vocalist Renee, who has one hell of a great, husky, sultry voice, and which comes off almost like early Arcade Fire if they’d eschewed the art-rock in favor of old Uncle Tupelo and (yes, again) Springsteen cassette tapes. The mandolin’s still there, but it’s less a full partner than a bit of embellishment, the guitars ride a brilliant descending drone riff, and when Morales howls that the object of the song has never let him down, it’s with eyes wide and a voice full of triumph.
Second Lovers play up at the HOB tonight with College Station-bred band The Docs (who’re celebrating their EP release tonight, although I have yet to hear it) and the also-excellent Adam Bricks; the doors open at 7PM, so get up there early and don’t miss any of the bands/people playing, alright?