This week, I have a pair of shows to recommend that both boast particularly excellent double bills.
On Friday, Oct. 24, the Troubadour welcomes Blind Pilot and The Low Anthem. Blind Pilot has been known to tour via bicycle. I don’t know if the Portland, Oregon band will be pedaling down to L.A., but they will be pedaling their tunes off of their terrific 2007 release 3 Rounds And A Sound. They have been known to tour via bicycle. Led by singer/guitarist Israel Nebeker, the band has a knack for folksy rock that is anchored in melodic hooks. 3 Rounds comes packed with a number of memorably tracks, like “Oviedo,” “Paint Or Pollen” and “Two Towns From Me”; it’s one of those discs that’s always a pleasure to pull off the shelf.
The Rhode Island-based Low Anthem put out a disc this year, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, that is shaping up to fall into the very same category. It starts off with a trio of beguiling, gentle tunes (“Charlie Darwin,” “To Ohio” and “Ticket Taker”) that set up the band up along the quiet bucolic pop of the Jayhawks, but then they shift gears with a pair of raucous foot-stompers (“The Horizon Is A Beltway” and the Kerouac/Waits collaboration “Home I’ll Never Be”). It’s impressive that singer Ben Knox Miller can convincingly pull off these dulcet and ragged vocal styles. On Charlie Darwin, the Low Anthem has evolved into mighty fine craftsmen of lovely pastoral pop and more rugged, rootsy rock.
The week’s second recommendable show occurs the next night when the Hotel Café hosts both William Elliott Whitmore and Hoots and the Hellmouth. Over the past few years, Whitmore has been churning out stark folk blues that sounds likes it comes from a much older man than young Iowan is. This year he released his “major label” debut Animals In The Dark on Anti-. Whitmore expanded his arrangements a bit on this effort (like on the fiery full-band opener “Mutiny”) but overall he still sounds like an old-time bluesman on dark, intense tunes like “Johnny Law” and “Hell Or High Water.”
Also residing at the Hotel Café that night is the Hoot And Hellmouth. Although they hail from Philadelphia, they are more of a rural band than a city one. On their rollicking new release, The Holy Open Secret, they sound like they have been busking for year. Songs like “Root of the Industry” and “Watch Your Month” crank out a funky acoustic vibe, while “Three Penny Charm” and “Family Band” showcase their quieter side. With their blend of the rollicking and gentle, they fall somewhere between the Old Crow Medicine Show and the Avett Brothers on the jammy Americana band spectrum.