Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Show review: The Laureates at Quenchers, 5/11

By Gene Wagendorf III

The Laureates
Sometimes catching a heinous, Record Store Day-ruining flu can lead to pretty good things. Not long after catching Running at Reckless I puked all over the outside of my pal's car and had to be taken home a quivering, sloppy mess.The worst part? I never made it to saki to see The Runnies, who everyone tells me kick ass. Later that weekend, between racing to the toilet and cursing my own existence, I found time to download their record, You Can't Win, from Candy Dinner's wonderful little website. As anyone who has had a day off in the new millennium (is it still new?) will tell you, it's damn near impossible to avoid burning a few hours clicking links and riding the internet rabbit hole. Candy Dinner very helpfully features a "You might (probably will) also like" section next to each of their albums. A few clicks later and boom, I discover The Laureates.

So that's how I wound up at Quencher's on Friday night. Normally it takes a lot for me to get excited about a garage rock band. I mean, let's be honest, even a lot of the good ones kinda sound the same. Also, for a genre that's almost by-definition throwback, a lot of it is simply been-there-done-that. Enter The Laureates, who've boiled that music do its essence. Their reliance on catchy hooks with a dusting of psychedelic drifting creates a sound that's just pure kinetic fun. Crinkling guitars, fuzzy leads, snappy percussion  and creamy vocals combined for a big sound that the group smartly crammed into three and a half minute bursts of classic rock and roll.  Chad Preston's singing and songwriting are really reminiscent of Jonathan Richman's work with The Modern Lovers, but with a healthy dose of bombast filling in for the absence organ noodling."Don't Lose Your Cool" featured a smooth, paisley jangle behind its refreshing, titular mantra. Even the song's loose crystalline romp quickly settled back into the groove, avoiding even a hint of self-indulgence. Such was the entire set, as The Laureates moved from one '60s radio-ready tune to another. Bassist Crawfie Ward's rubbery lines held their dance-inducing ground amidst round after round off buzzing riffs- a perfectly understated anchor. Where a lot of garage rock bands resort to a combination of volume, distortion and preening to conjure up some sense of cool, The Laureates let the cool come organically via their striking melodies and precise delivery.

The band's last song melted easily to its hook before collecting its pieces in flurry of noise. Another bouncing bass line rode through melodic fizzle a while before it all shivered back into more endearing pop music. The Laureates managed to craft an evening made to satisfy the punks and the sock hoppers, or what some would call a perfect Friday night. If that's the pot of gold at the end of the Diarrhea Rainbow, then I suppose it was all worth it.

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