Performing: Tonight at Fort Fringe with Adam Lempel and The Heartbeats at 10:45 p.m.
They Say: “Paint Branch brings you new songs about loving, losing, striving and the bonds of friendship from Chris Richards and John Davis, formerly of Q and Not U.”
Val’s Take: Anyone who had been to The Writers’ Center in Bethesda in 2010 got the preview of Paint Branch long before anyone else. During the Chad Clark (Beauty Pill) and Matthew Byers (The Caribbean) curated event Story/Stereo, Davis, the featured musician, brought his former bandmate Richards to the stage for a chilling rendition of Q and Not U’s “No Damage Nocturne” and a Neil Young cover.
“Nocturne” was a departure from the other songs on Different Damage, a haunting standout buried on the album’s back end shining sadly after the rest of the album’s unusual melodies, prominent bass lines and high-strung shouts. It was a suggestion that there was some heartbreak in the midst of the post-punk dance party and the acoustic rendition in Bethesda was proof that these two could move you to tears, not just move your feet.
As hopeful as the title I Want to Live may sound, there are a lot of harmonies in minor keys and mid tempo that find your heart’s weak points and seep right in. However, this won’t be Cryfest 2013. The straightforward rock sounds will remind the listener a lot of 1970s radio rock like Elvis Costello and CSNY. Its familiarity is oddly comforting, as if finding your heart’s raw spots, but offering up some aloe.
Recommended Track: “Brighton Beach”
Fringe Play for Whom They’re the Best Fit: RFK. Yes, Paint Branch’s music is more 1970s than 1960s, but much like the play about the murdered politician, it hearkens back to a bygone era and hints at both sadness and continued growth.