Tuesday night at the Middle East Upstairs saw a handful of great acts, local and from across seas, each of which performed mostly mellow yet technically skilled sets. Kicking things off were the recently formed quarter, John Andrews & The Yawns. These bluesy fellows and lady had an impressively developed sound, one that they clearly carved from finding their own slice of the musical pie and digging into it for all it’s worth. Their first album, Bit By The Fang, is the solo works of lead singer and pianist John Andrews. Having played and toured with both Quilt and Woods, Andrews finally found the time to buckle down and bust out the record from his grandparents living room in NJ while working at a local thrift store. The album certainly reflects this eastern countryside, simple life aesthetic. Live, John Andrews & The Yawns, has an incredibly warm sound, which is credits to both a keyboardist and organ in the mix, adding rich depth.
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Local Boston underground guitar guru, Doug Tuttle took to the stage next and along with three other members, gave the most upbeat performance of the night. Doug Tuttle has a great level of rock and roll energy live, contrasting the style of his recent 2016 album, It Calls On Me, which is airier and softly spun psychedelia. This contrast displays the musician’s talent for being able to play entertaining spins on his own music. And a guitarist he is. The level of rock and roll shredding is off the charts with Tuttle—the kind of guy one could blindfold and you’d still be drooping your tongue at the preciseness of his nonchalant finger-work. “Falling To Believe” is a go-to track for those unfamiliar with the musician.
Next up were the young, EZTV, a band that signed to Captured Tracks and already has two albums under their belt since 2015. Both of their records, High in Place and Calling Out, have a smooth, carefree, Real Estate-esk sound. Live, the four-piece was somewhat more rough around the edges with their tones. While they were tight and you could tell they’ve been playing together nonstop since they got going, EZTV‘s overall replica of the way their albums come off, leave something to be desired live.
And finally, the group the folks at the Middle East came out to see, Ultimate Painting, took to, looking as if just getting out of bed and taking a few shots of whiskey chased with beer to get their bed head, musical brains rolling. Led by Jack Cooper and James Hoare, the band from London lick out crisp, down tempo, slumber guitar grooves. Watching Cooper and Hoare go back and forth on guitars is like a game of ping pong where both sides are winning. It’s nifty, quick guitar banter, and their singing only matches it all to give the crowd countless tunes to hum along to. Krautrock inspired drums and walking basslines give these guys a unique sound, they could really capitalize on if they wrote more along the lines of “(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues,” “Ten Street,” and the humorously titled one, “Ultimate Painting,” off their debut album Ultimate Painting. This is where Ultimate Painting truly shines; in the upbeat, flowing, flowers-out-of the water style it can only be described as, hitting as something you will automatically resonate with.
A great show at the Middle East, that didn’t get over until pretty late, yet had the crowd sticking around until the very end.
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