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Deep Reverb’s 7-inch compilation A Betting Man’s Hand deals out four local bands. You’ll be in the green if you play the A-side, but be prepared to owe the house if you flip the record over.
Hand’s first card is Coach Johnson’s “Visit Our Ritual.” Although the Arlington quartet’s handle sounds like the name of a porno flick, its music is reminiscent of Velocity Girl and any number of Athens exports. Jessica Bridges’ vocals are commanding, and when she’s joined on the chorus by John Ward’s smooth slide guitar you’re ready to buy a ticket to whatever ceremony she’s yodeling about. I See Spots’ new-wave stylings (staccato bass, monotonic vocals) are perfectly summarized by its contribution’s title: “Twitchy.” The Arlington three-piece’s winsome slogan: “It’s not just a band—it’s a complete sentence.”
While the A-side delivers aces, the B-side makes for a bum hand, beginning with the effort of Goo Goo ‘heads tribute trio Enamel. When Andy Carroll sings the chorus of “Living Without You,” you feel like helping him put his heart back inside his chest. Passionate, yes. Catchy, yes. Clever, no. The night’s last card also comes up a deuce, Charming’s music being as precious as you’d expect from its name. I can’t hang with this poppy la-la shit, so when Nicole Stoops belts, “I feel so social, ta-day-hey,” I feel like telling her to be friendly on someone else’s turntable. Yeah, that’s harsh, but I just lost 75 cents to some grifter who pulled out a royal flush to beat my pair of twos. Damn!
Also available from Deep Reverb (ne Reverb) is the fuzzy, midtempo, and melodic debut 7-inch by Zoothead (ne Zoot Phathead). The label’s name change must have been intended to honor Zoothead’s production ideals: Both “Restless” and “Wide Awake” sound as if the mikes were placed at the bottom of a well, with Phil Spector adding some additional echo to make it, you know, cavernous. Buy these records for $3.50 each from Deep Reverb, P.O. Box 32247, Washington, DC 20007 before they change the label’s name to a glyph.