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I started out writing this piece about artists with whom I had a near miss. Twice in the last few months I have wandered into bars to find musicians nearing the end of their sets or packing up their gear. Add to this a third band I serendipitously caught at a favorite local club that I believe warrants attention.
Amy Regan is an enterprising young 20-something from New Jersey with a remarkably striking, clarion-clear voice. Her vocals bring to mind modern chanteuses like Regina Spektor, Sylvie Lewis and Ingrid Michaelson, as well as older favorites like K. D. Lang and Joni Mitchell. Her EP, And Then There Is This, showcases her singing a variety of styles, from breathy ballads to rollicking guitar-driven C&W to contemporary jazz. Amy's voice is remarkable, and I'm intrigued to see how it develops as she hones her skills.
I wandered into Solly's a month or so ago and heard the most wondrous music, soaring vocals and strings and even a tambourine. I made a beeline for the jukebox, and then realized the song was coming from the upstairs bar! I had just experienced Windows, the new single from Cleveland-based quartet The Lighthouse and the Whaler. They draw obvious comparisons to Ra Ra Riot, but offer a folksier take on their lushly instrumented sound. They will be returning to the DC area in support of their forthcoming album in October.
I'm not even sure where to begin with Tallest Trees. Ostensibly, they share a lineup with the Nashville quartet Naked Light, although the band members swap instruments between lineup changes. Whereas Naked Light is a fairly straightforward alt-country band, Tallest Trees is an experimental band that sounds an awful lot like a Grizzly Bear/Dirty Projectors mashup. I managed to catch them at Solly's on a lark while trying to find something musical to do on a Sunday evening. The band/bands/collective are embarking upon their "Summer of Trouble" tour, which may or may not have resulted because of one of the musicians getting involved with a grifter. Regardless of the circumstances, this is a promising young group of Nashville musicians with a great and infinitely versatile sound. I'm not certain when they'll be returning to DC, but I will keep you posted.
All photos courtesy of the artists