The bill at Frontier Bar Tuesday night offered several acts I’d been curious about for a while. Although Jason Chronis has been performing as JC & Co for a while now, I’ve somehow managed to never catch a set. The same goes for Agent Ribbons, who’ve undertaken several major American tours and have a few releases under their belts. Sandwiched in the middle was San Francisco’s Blank Tapes, fitting for a cassette release party, who are in the midst of a national tour.
To kick off the night, JC & Co played a set that showcased all the same pop sensibilities that Chronis’ projects have always maintained, be it Belaire or Voxtrot. Compared to these, the groups songs aren’t as electronically based or shimmering, respectively. The more streamlined pop songs generally emphasize guitar, though Belaire’s Cari Palazzolo did handle organ responsibilities for the set.
The Blank Tapes reminded me of several bands at once, yet remained distinct. As a three piece who wrote simple pop songs (especially one about a beach party) and eschewed the traditional lineup by moving drummer Pearl Charles front and center and using only a floor tom and snare, the group reminded me just a bit of Beat Happening. However, this is pretty limited to their live energy, and the musical compositions of the band lean more toward my second reference point of the Elephant 6 Collective. In appeal and sound, the band reminds me of any number of bands from Olivia Tremor Control to Apples in Stereo. Their country edge sets them apart, though, and I’ll definitely be looking into this band further.
Agent Ribbons held headliner status for the bill, which served as a cassette release party for their tape, Let Them Talk, released by Cassingle and Loving It. The band proved emphatic and theatrical with brief twinges of an Eastern European edge as their vocal melodies wavered and dueled—sometimes with each syllable, “Fam-ly-hair-cut-fam-ly-hair-cut.” The duo comprised of Lauren Hess and Natalie Gordon possess a confident stage presence, are energetic in their frequent crowd interactions, and deliver their songs with power. Having played with Camera Obscura and Detroit Cobras over the years, these girls are becoming veterans at the indie-rock game. Let’s hope quality experience and quality music can translate into an increasing fan base with this new release. Catch the band again in Austin in September for a yet to be announced date.