Standout Track: “The Sweet Tooth,” which appears on the group’s demo release, is a slow-paced lo-fi song that plays like an homage to both Delta blues and ’60s folk-rock. By layering a simple bass progression over a laid-back beat, the trio creates a soundscape that could work either onstage at Velvet Lounge or on the sound system at Tryst.
Musical Motivation: The group cites everyone from Sam Cooke and Coleman Hawkins as influences, but credits a prominent nonmusical figure for the band’s very existence: one Trader Joe. The band wouldn’t exist if singer-guitarist Brandon Moses and drummer Michael Harris hadn’t met four years ago while working at a Trader Joe’s in Philadelphia. “There was something magical about Trader Joe’s,” Moses says. Still, “The Sweet Tooth” is not an ode to the tasty treats stocked by a certain gourmet grocer but rather a testament to Harris’ love of high-brow bubblegum tunes, a la the Beatles’ “Revolution. “He has a pop sensibility [that] makes the songs bounce,” Moses says of Harris.
Schoolhouse Rock: Last year, while on his way to perform at the Capitol Punishment concert series at American University, Moses met a lonesome student and encouraged him to check out the Laughing Man’s set. The student, Luke Stewart, declined, saying he had too much work to do. But the studious rebuffer would later become the Laughing Man’s bass player. “This guy comes walking in during our last song and approached us after the set,” Moses says. “I told him we were looking for a bass player, and he played bass. It kind of just worked out mysteriously.”
The Laughing Man performs Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Black Cat