Pete and J! Pete and J!

30 Apr

l_23fce7a7466c450182c4f40950cdcff9Last night Lindsay and I hit the Red Devil Lounge and caught the PowerPop band Pete and J, straight outta Brooklyn.  My buddy Sarab Singh plays drums in the group (he went to music school at UMiami along with me and Lindsay), and Or, The Whale co-headlined with them at the Independent about six months ago.  I’d heard they were great, but hadn’t seen them.  As it turns out, yep – they’re great!

The duo behind the eponymous group are Pete Harper, who plays keyboard and guitar, and Jason Flynn, who plays a mean lead guitar (and uses my new favorite axe, the Gibson 335, or maybe 337). Pete also looks like a funky Art Garfunkel (I’m sure he gets that all the time).  Well, he at least looks like Jemaine Clement playing Art Garfunkel on FotC… The duo is joined by Sarab on drums, and a bass player, whose name is not listed on their site, but who was a great player with a really good voice.

Anyhow, really, check ’em out – their recordings sound pretty dang great (particularly their new EP), and their live show is even better… it sounds as though the last two years of touring have been really good for their tightness as a band, and what I saw backs that up.  Their set was drag-free,  totally loaded with really catchy, melodic pop tunes played superbly and with a wonderful sense of humor.  The group’s overall sound called to mind a lot of my favorite groups – in particular, their strong, high vocal harmonies (ornamented by J’s growly belt) evoked the more rocking tunes of the late, great SF Superpop group Jellyfish (whose album, Spilt Milk, you really should own).

What’s more, PnJ’s writing never lapses into lazy repetition, something that I strive for (always striving, not always achieving) in my own writing, and really admire in others’ work.  Also importantly, their live sound was really good – very full and not too loud.  Part of this owed to the band’s clear understanding their own levels and tones, but it was also greatly helped by their well-layered musical arrangements.  On each song, the guitar was here, the synth line over here, the bassline heeere behind the desk, the drums down there by the fridge, the vocals up over theeerre, and the backup vocals placed just… up… here, on this little shelf.  If that makes sense.

Sarab’s drumming was, of course, totally slamming – that certainly seems to be the particular wont of most of the amazing drummers I went to school with.  It was really groovy, and particularly impressive considering that he was using a borrowed kit with the floor tom mounted up on the rack.  I, (and the rest of the crowd), liked when he played tambourine, too – way to give the people what they want!

Great band.  They tour often, so check out their myspace page and go support them the next time they’re out!  And who knows – one of these times, you just may see my band on a bill with them. And wouldn’t that be fun?

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