Four Play

Evan Bliss and the Welchers

Web: www.myspace.com/thewelchers 
Album: ShhhPOW!
Show: April 9 at Rock N Roll Hotel: 1353 H St., NW, DC; 202-388-7625; www.rockandrollhotel.com

Track: Fleiss
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Evan Bliss’ newest album, “ShhhPOW!” is instantly infectious. Bliss, the former frontman for the rock and reggae group, The Low Life, has definitely hit all the right notes with this band, and that includes their latest release, “ShhhPOW!” perfect for any musical palette. Touching on several musical genres, Bliss includes influences of roots rock, soul, jazz and funk in this 10-track album. Their first song, “Love is a Dance Floor” really sets the tone for the entire CD, starting off with an old-school sound, slow and sweet, then turns on a dime into a head bopping masterpiece. The rest of the album follows suit with each musical influence perfectly mastered into one piece of musical genius. Bliss’ voice, similar to that of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, is supported by his band (Josh Grove, Eric Abalahin, Jason Mattis and Shareef Taher) so that you really get a strong instrumental sound that compliments his voice. Nothing is drowned out here, you’re getting a 50-50 split of musicianship and vocals. Other hit tracks include “Fleiss” and “Passerby” but you’re pretty much going to dig everything about this album. — Ashley Estill

Shortstack

Web: www.shortstackmusic.com
Album: Please Leave My Mind
Show: CD Release April 16 at Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Track: Breathe
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Adrian Carroll, lead singer for DC-based roots rock (emphasis on rock) band Shortstack, once told an interviewer that the group’s sound is “like early rock and roll but more echo-y, and a little weirder.” That’s about right, except the band’s latest disc, “Please Leave My Mind,” eschews some of the weirdness for accessibility – and it works. Shortstack still sounds swaggering and dangerous, but it’s as if the band has dressed up its ragged vibe in a sharp-cut suit. Band leader Adrian Carroll rocks the guitar and vocals, Mark Cisneros handles the drumming duties and multi-instrumentalist Michael Pahn chimes in with lapsteel, guitar and vocal harmonies – and it’s all tight. “Wiseblood,” a repetitive but infectious rocker propelled by jangly surf-style guitar, recalls old Social Distortion. “Here’s to Progress,” is a tight little slice of retro cool reminiscent of late 70s outfits like The Knack or The Cars. But those comparisons aren’t meant to imply Shortstack doesn’t have its own sound. The band most definitely does – it just borrows a lot of the good stuff from country, rock, indie and punk to create a unique musical brew. Some bands break out seemingly overnight. Others take a while to distill their essence. Shortstack has aged like fine bourbon. The band’s sound still goes down smoother with each passing year. — Michael Coleman

The Infamous Stringdusters

Web: www.thestringdusters.com
Album: Things That Fly
Show: April 30 at The 8×10: 10 East Cross St., Baltimore, MD; 410-625-2000; www.the8x10.com

Track: Won’t Be Coming Back
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If bluegrass music isn’t experiencing a popular revival, it’s at least in the midst of an exciting renaissance period. Bands like the Steeldrivers, who compliment the high lonesome sound of traditional bluegrass with gritty, low-down vocals, and The Infamous Stringdusters, who infuse their music with a sort of virtuoso jam band aesthetic, are leading the new crop of bluegrass pickers. The Infamous Stringdusters’ new record – the aptly named “Things That Fly” – is a soaring demonstration of how energetic, creative musicians can breathe new life into an old sound. Bassist/singer Travis Book, mandolinist Jesse Cobb, new guitarist Andy Falco, fiddler/singer Jeremy Garrett, dobro player Andy Hall and banjoist Chris Pandolfi are each stellar musicians in their own right, but their collaboration here is on fire. On “Those Who’ve Gone On,” the band pays tribute to loved ones lost, but the song manages to stay upbeat with lightning fast banjo picking. “All the Same,” downshifts to a slower almost bluesy pace, and the languid tone coupled with gorgeous harmonies almost inspires goose bumps. Unlike so much music today, the The Infamous Stringdusters don’t need gimmicks to succeed. Their latest album is proof. – Michael Coleman

Ayurveda

Web: www.ayurvedamusic.com
Album: H. Luminous
Show: April 17 at Car Pool: 208 Elden St., Herndon, VA; 571-203-7995; www.carpoolweb.com

Track: Happy Little Pills
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Ayurveda, a national touring band based out of Ithaca, NY, is heading to Herndon to perform with Alexandria’s Iris Divine and Rockville’s Iritis for “A Special Evening of Prog Rock” on April 17th at 8 p.m. Ayurveda’s sound is absolutely progressive rock: read very heavy rock. Their five-piece band sounds like a cross between Radiohead and Led Zeppelin, combined for a rock sound they call their own. Their previous record, Down the Staircase, released in 2009, is an 11-track album with impressive guitar riffs and an experienced sound. Ayurveda’s latest album, H. Luminous, will explore spiritual transformation. Let’s just hope they keep their diverse sound the same because it works. Oh, and for those of you wondering, Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning “the knowledge of life.” — Ashley Estill

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