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In concert with the Volebeats

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COUNTRY AND MIDWESTERN

Audiences around here know that they can rely on the Volebeats for strong sets of Midwestern AM-radio melancholy, and last Friday’s snowbound set at the Gold Dollar was no exception. Mixing older material with a sampling of destined-to-be-classic new tunes from Solitude (the forthcoming LP due to be released next month on Safehouse Records), the Voles checked in solidly, hot on the heels of the band’s first lineup change in several years. Ghostworld’s John Nash, who has replaced the departed-for-the-Twin-Cities Bob McReedy, already plays like a seasoned member of the group as his acoustic rhythm guitar propelled tunes such as "Radio Flyer" into the realm of pure musical magic.

Opening the show was Slumber Party, a newer area quartet whose electric strum-pop makes it one of the stronger contenders in the underground pop sweepstakes. Recalling the downer folk-rock of Barbara Manning and sundry New Zealand guitar pop bands, Slumber Party’s strong songwriting and intuitive playing skills were tempered by a relieving feeling of hesitation, the reserve of a band avoiding the pitfalls of flash in the presentation of its well-crafted art. Its mellow drones and dreamy harmonies warmed the substantial crowd which braved the ridiculously quick snow accumulation that night. Definitely one of the rock bands to check out in ’99, especially if you favor the pleasures of post-Velvets songcraft as opposed to scenester hype.

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