Hard-touring Dallas rockers The Graham Colton Band have spent the past couple of years opening for the Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Wallflowers, and John Mayer and will be returning to town in August on an opening slot for Kelly Clarkson.
Stylistically, the band sounds like those bands stripped of the facets that make them most annoying to detractors: self-involved singers, overwrought songs, jam-band tendencies without commensurate chops or imagination. Strip all that away from the Counting Crows/Dave Matthews template, and you've got a solid, professional, but pretty unexciting rock band. And with name producer Brendan O'Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) overseeing the band's current major-label debut, Drive, the result sounds pretty good on the surface. Drive is a collection of straightforward, surging, vaguely anthemic rock songs of a type you might expect to hear over an emotional montage on a UPN teen drama. There's also a subtle roots sound that makes the band sound like a more bland version of fellow Texans the Old 97's. The Graham Colton Band will be at Newby's Saturday, June 18th.
The Young Avenue Deli boasts an interesting lineup this week. New Orleans bluesman Mem Shannon hits the Cooper-Young watering hole Thursday, June 16th. Shannon typically plays more blues-oriented venues when he comes to town, so it will be interesting to see how he sounds (and draws) at a more rock-oriented club. A strong writer and performer, Shannon recently followed up his locally recorded 2001 album Memphis in the Morning with a new album, I'm From Phunkville, which features a blues cover of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and some more Memphis-inspired blends of B.B. King-style blues and Stax-like horns.
The next night, Friday, June 17th, the Deli hosts Lynn Cardona, a young local singer who spins a beguiling mix of neo-soul and vocal jazz (think Jill Scott, with a little more rock influence) on her recent debut album Lovin' You and who is an engaging live performer. Cardona will be joined by Iron Mic Coalition/Kontrast DJ Capital A. Cardona has also been working on a collaboration with Iron Mic producer/MC Fathom 9, so look for the hip-hop influences to become more prominent in her music.
Finally, one of the most interesting up-and-coming local bands, This Is Goodbye, headlines the club Wednesday, June 22nd, with Illinois' the Headlights opening. This Is Goodbye has been in the studio down the street from the Deli at Young Avenue Sound working on a debut EP that should be out soon. In the meantime, you can hear this band's Coldplay-esque sound on the Web at ThisIsGoodbye.com. Or, better yet, you can see them live this week at the Deli.
- Chris Herrington
As far as I'm concerned, there are only two questions worth asking: Did the president lie America into Iraq, and is Augustine the best band in Memphis? This quintet of peach-fuzzy art rockers have a gigantic sound rooted in (but not ruined by) the more commercial end of the goth-rock spectrum. It's not exactly retro, but it's impossible to hear Augustine without thinking about the Cure in their Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me days or Cities in Dust-era Siouxsie & the Banshees. The guitars drone, flirt with surf, minimalism, and murder-jazz, then explode in monster hooks matched with smart and infectious, if not necessarily cheery, lyrics. If you think I'm overstating the point, go see Augustine when they play the Hi-Tone Café on Wednesday, June 22nd, with the Color Revolt and Stellamarris. If they're not your new favorite band, go see the doctor. There's clearly something wrong with you. n
- Chris Davis