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Stage Buzz: Menahan Street Band and The Whigs

What might be both the single greatest compliment for and argument against the Menahan Street Band‘s second release, The Crossing (Daptone) is that it’s a great album to listen to while doing work. No doubt full of compelling songs, masterfully crafted by all-stars of the modern funk scene (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings sits atop many of the members’ resumes), it suffers at the same time from an overall tight demeanor. While tracks such as “Sleight Of Hand” and  “Lights Out” deal out tense and intriguing plots, the rest of the record ends up sounding like the background music for a Denzel Washington gangster film set in the ’70s, reference intended. What Menahan Street Band really does is create an excellent database of tight soul and funk for other artists to sample. There’s no doubt that the slinky bass lines, tinny classical guitar, and laid-back beats will find their way onto a hip-hop record near you. (Friday@Double Door.)

— Mike Sosin

From Athens, Georgia comes the American garage rock trio, The Whigs. With their fourth studio album, Enjoy The Company (ATO Records), lead singer/guitarist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio, and bassist Timothy Deaux, show off their lyrical intellect as well as their ability to jam.

Songs like “Tiny Treasures,” “Summer Heat,” and “Rock And Roll Forever” feature fancy finger work on guitar and they even throw in a little cowbell for good measure. The Whigs tend to kick up the experimentation on instrumental numbers, injecting horns in “Staying Alive” for a jazzy flavor and violin to “Ours” to compliment the slow six-string build-up.

Pay attention to Gispert’s vocals. On “After Dark,” a clearer voice echoes out almost whispered lyrics. This earnest singing combined with simple lyrics make connecting to the music easier, especially on “Couple Of Kids.” Relatable words take you through choruses of keyboards to bring you back to relationships past. This theme of blissfully sweet acoustic poetry continues on in “Thank You.” (Friday@Lincoln Hall.)

— Mary Scannell

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