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How do you make a cello sound beautiful? Sell it and buy a violin. OK, so cello humor doesn’t rank up there with Henny Youngman’s, but the truth is, the instrument can make any composition sound inviting. Its soothingly elegiac tone is like a gentle hug around the torso combined with a soft petting around the temples. Musicians reared on both high school orchestras and indie bands have increasingly started combining their two experiences to create a new genre of cellofied rock. Telegraph Melts (pictured), 33.3, and Threnody Ensemble all combine classical and pop elements to form their compositions, favoring blue-hour moods and somber melodies. Ilium, the debut full-length by Arlington duo Telegraph Melts, marries the neo-classical sounds of cellist—and Washington City Paper staffer—Amy Domingues and the neo-metal guitar of Bob Massey. The band has become increasingly melodic since its formation two years ago, and the payoff is an album that is meditative and subtly menacing, with pieces that surge and flow like the ocean while they push and pull against rock and classical conventions. 33.3 comprises cellist Dominique Davison, guitarist Brian Alfred, and drummer Steven Walls; its self-titled debut showcases the band’s poplike, atmospheric compositions. Davison’s other cello-rock band, Threnody Ensemble, which also includes former A Minor Forest guitarist Erik Hoversten, opens at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at DCCD, 2423 18th St. NW. Free. (202) 588-1810. (Christopher Porter)