Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chris Cubeta; Bryan Dunn; Shwa @ Mercury Lounge

Chris Cubeta & The Liars Club; Bryan Dunn; Shwa Losben; Emily Easterly
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - March 21, 2009

On a night dominated by power pop, Chris Cubeta brought the raw, stripped down version of it when the guitars were flying. The ballads were classically pop troubadour torch numbers crossed with country-fried lament. There was a Ryan Adams-ish mellifluousness to his sound.

When Bryan Dunn's band peaked at 10 people, playing enthusiastic pop music and anthems replete with horns, backing singers, and a dread-locked rapper - and also when his outfit shrunk to a handful of basics to play alt-country - it all felt like college, 1993. And that's far from a bad thing. Lots of talent on the stage, and a whole lot of fun.

Shwa Losben is one of those singer-songwriters that would be a pop radio wunderkind if good pop music was allowed on the radio. He knows exactly how to craft the hooks behind sterling lyrics. Whether it's the intensity of "Never Too Soon To Compromise (Yourself And All Your Values!!)" and "Brooklyn Girls" (the latter of which is just good bar band fun) or the textured grace of "Chop Chop" and "So Cry", there is some serious success afoot here. And, as I learned from NPR's SXSW coverage, you need to have a name you can easily google. Shwa wins.

Emily Easterly looks like Jenny Lewis but more importantly has a thing for outlaw country in between her ballads. Grab a beer, wear some plaid, and have a listen.

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