BLEU VELVET Christmas lights are strung to wood-paneled walls in a cramped Downtown living room. The fuzzed-out jangle of an old Brit-rock band blares over the speakers as a swarm of middle-aged partiers waits for Vegas indie group Sang Bleu to set up. It’s a scene straight out of a ’60s art film, except that the musicians are wearing gothic dresses, the shag carpeting has been updated with something more modern and all of our shoes are parked at the door. In this room full of Gen-Xers, nostalgia and exposed socks are everywhere.
A crowd shuffles into the room, the smell of sweaty bodies hanging in the air when Sang Bleu begins. “Desire on fire/desire on fire/my pretty little liar/gonna set you on fire!” vocalist Maggie Leon sings during “Savages.” The five women behind her—Sulayla Arnett (drums, bass, synth) Stephanie Fuchs (guitar), Elizabeth Scheib (bass, synth, vocals) Karli Stenger (keys, drums) and Jennifer Gerena (xylophone, melodica, vocals)—swap instruments on nearly every song.
“We all have so many different influences,” Leon says. “When we start playing, we never plan to sound like anything. We just kinda jammed and that’s what came out of us. Are we grunge? Are we post punk? Are we indie?” More like a hybrid of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Le Tigre and Vegas’ long-defunct Flaspar (Arnett is a former member). Sang Bleu’s grungy, post-punk edge is only reinforced by Leon’s somber vocals and high-pitched yelps.
“This is everybody’s enjoyable hobby, to escape from the routine-life-kind-of-thing,” Leon says. Sang Bleu “kind of happened by accident,” she adds, first as a project featuring just her and Arnett, then snowballing into a full band. At the show, the group sells its self-titled three-song EP (recorded by Curl Up and Die’s Matt Fuchs) along with homemade cake pops (get a taste here, sans trans fats). The sextet is already amping up for more projects, like a full-length album (and maybe vinyl) in the future.
SYNTHY SAVIORS Electro-indie duo Payola Presley dropped its latest collection of songs, EP of the Year, Tuesday at Beauty Bar with support from local electro-pop group Boiis. The warm, synth-heavy tracks flow between casual, downtempo beats and high-energy, ’80s-punk-influenced rockers (hear: “Deadman” and “Empty Plastic Bags”). It’s the kind of EP that picks up where bands like Afghan Raiders left off, putting a fresh spin on Vegas-bred indie pop.
ALL TOGETHER NOW Bluegrass outfit The All-Togethers’ new 10-song CD, To the Sober Go the Spoils is now streaming on Soundcloud, with an official release scheduled for March 13 at the Forge Social House in Boulder City (sponsored by CraftHaus Brewery and Las Vegas Distillery). From toe-tapping opener “Self-Defense” (with an even catchier chorus), to the winter-in-the-country vibes of “Shadowboxing,” The All-Togethers’ Americana-folk will make you feel like you hopped in a time machine set to 1925—minus that whole Prohibition thing. Cindy Osborne’s stand-up bass, Brenna Luman-Glimp’s gorgeous cello lines, Michael Louis Austin’s guitar and Ken Osborne’s rich vocals, mandolin and banjo make To the Sober Go the Spoils a folky treat for ears and feet.
SCENIC BEAUTY Alt-pop duo Almost Normal has released a YouTube video for its single, “Oblivion,” directed by Jacob Stark. The song hones in on Ashley Lampman’s powerful, Ellie Goulding-like vocals, with Andrew Zakher on piano. The video is beautifully filmed—full of scenic train track and desert shots—even if it does have a bit of a cliffhanger ending.
ALSO Vegas punks False Cause signed with SquidHat Records last month following the group’s performance in SquidHat’s January battle of the bands showcase. False Cause’s first release, a five-song EP titled This Flag, will be released on red vinyl on April 14. … Electronic music producer and composer David Rosen will release his album An Unseen Sky on April 7. The 16-song LP is a follow-up to 2014’s Further Into the Dark.