God bless Charm City: The stoop-sitters of Baltimore cherish deck-party crab cracks, root feverishly for dem O’s, and display a pride for their harbor-rimmed town that matches any loyalty on the eastern seaboard. Unfortunately, they live in a habitat relatively devoid of a music scene and must haul ass to D.C. for anything resembling a backyard sound. Now, 9:30 Club owner Seth Hurwitz has helped quell the need for southern excursions by taking over Fell’s Point bastions Bohager’s and Fletcher’s. But perhaps the biggest boost has come from Love Riot, a Baltimore outfit that more than resembles the band for which it recently opened in the District: 10,000 Maniacs. With guitarist-vocalist Lisa Mathews leading four less-than-flamboyant male musicians, Love Riot eases out uncomplicated, rootsy pop, exuding an easygoing tunefulness that resembles (and complements) its native surroundings. As if the local following isn’t testimony enough to the band’s appeal, Love Riot also has some high-powered friends: NBC’s Homicide featured one of the band’s songs in a recent episode, and J.D. Considine wrote liner notes for the band’s true debut, Maybe She Will. The disc mixes soft, acoustic ruminations on love lost and found with upbeat, percussion-heavy tracks about pretty much the same thing. Mathews isn’t afraid to show she’s having a blast leading the charge on “Long Way Home” and “Tango,” and neither is she timid about overemoting on “Sometimes a Feeling” and the title track. Mathews and Co. won’t break the mold of their chosen genre, but for the sake of talent-needy Baltimore, they’re a great start, hon.Sean Daly
Love Riot plays Fletcher’s Feb. 14.