! = recommended
* = all-ages
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When I arrived at EMP's Liquid Lounge Friday night to see Tullycraft, I immediately spotted a wiry bleachy blond cutie-pie. This face... I knew this face...
Then within minutes, said face (with body attached) took the stage with his powder blue guitar and sparkly guitar strap (and his two band mates) as the opening band of the night: The Malinks. Hmm, I know I didn't know him from the Malinks — I had never heard of the Malinks. How did I know him?
Then, epiphany. KARAOKE! Ha HAH — that's it! The Twilight Exit. Phew, what a relief. The mystery solved, I was free to enjoy this show.
So the Malinks: First off, bonus points for being karaoke fans. Beyond that, I didn't know them. I had no idea they were playing tonight; I was there for Tullycraft. So no expectations. It was all perk. Really tasty, puppy-pop perk.
Turns out the name of said Karoke-King is Chris Lorraine ("Chris Chris Lorraine you mangy mutt!")and his voice sounds great without the synth'd up karaoke laserdisc, too. Throughout their two sets (aside: since when does an opening band play two sets? I'm not complaining, just wondering...), Chris' tenor resonated clear and strong, with a cute whiny/pouty vocal affection definitely reminscent of a Black Francis or a Thom Yorke (hey, can't blame a guy for emulation, can you?). He took interesting chances with length and intensity of projection that never faltered.
The vocals were supported by strong — nearly surly at times — indie-pop guitar-driven tunes, with sweet songs on themes of love and loss, longing and kisses.
They opened the set with the the effervescent and catchy "Move a Muscle," from their last CD No One Gets Hurt:
"I won't move a muscle.
I won't budge.
When you're coming at me with your love.
And you look so sweet with your eyebrows in a V
And your lips pulled back.
You can't kiss like that."
My imaginary friend Carey likewise enjoyed the show. "These boys like to smile at each other. I like the smiling thing. They must be friends. Lead singer man pulls off pink well, and wears the glittering guitar strap with sass. Why do they remind me of Weezer?" said Carey.
I didn't hear Weezer. At times, the background harmonies sounded a bit like them... but they weren't quirky enough for Weezer, I thought. But then, I had a really hard time determining who they do sound like.
"Pavement?" suggested Carey.
No, not Pavement either, they were too cutesy and melodic to sound like Pavement. They had a post-punk indie-pop flavor, a happy and melodic sound, nearly spunky with enthusiasm.
"I guess they are more Backstreet Boys. No, I'm kidding! I just like talking about cute boy bands," said Carey. "It's just fun pop and it sounds good and the boys are kinda cute if you like tall and skinny ones."
With this profound statement of truth, Carey got up for a bathroom run... but two taps on the drum thwarted her steps.
"Omigod, this is Bell Biv Divoe!" she exclaimed.
And you know, she was right! The defining moment of the show, the one that solidified my musical infatuation (in addition to my rock star one, already well-formed by this point): they covered Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison."
Can I say again how much I *adore* a kitschy cover-tune? This was perhaps the coolest indie-rock funk cover moment ever recorded by this writer. And let me tell you, he's got SOUL for a skinny white guy!
I was also impressed with the breadth of material this band had to offer. They are currently at work on their third CD (three CDs? I've never even *heard* of these guys!) which, from the sounds of the song they played from it ("Disaster Man"), may show a more uninhibited butt-rocking side of this power pop trio. Chris seriously fingered that guitar a la Yngvie Malmsteen circa 1987 on that one!
Likewise impressive was the interest and respect they commanded from the audience, who were obviously pretty excited for the headlining Tullycraft. Perhaps this was because The Malinks were likewise fans...?
"We're so psyched to be playing a show with them (Tullycraft). They are so good. I forgot my seven inches for them to sign, but that keeps me from looking like a big dork," joked Chris.
And the rest of the band? The remaining Malinks — Shane Farmer (bass) and Bill Washabaugh (drums) — are likewise talented musicians and a pleasure to watch perform. I imagine that they are just as wicked with the karaoke mic.
Let's call a Malinks / Tullycraft karaoke night! I know Imaginary Liz will sign the petition!