The Austin Chronicle

Free Week Live Shots

Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, January 16, 2009, Music

Harlem, Ume

Emo's, Jan. 8

Working with producer Frenchie Smith has unearthed something in Ume, the band's previously distorted waves of noise finally solidifying into something hookier. The local trio played songs from new EP Sunshower as well as material from 2005's Urgent Sea, but there was no noticeable gap. Singer/guitarist Lauren Larson still owns the stage completely, taking off like an unmanned firehose during the solos. Yet as the band's become tighter, more focused, Larson's playing has also matured. Another trio on the verge of great things, Harlem lands on the opposite end of Ume's noise pop. Plowing through much of its excellent 2008 album, Free Drugs, without losing its sticky garage feel, the threepiece looked like it just woke up from a nap, but plied its damn catchy songs with verve. Somewhere in between Ume and Harlem was El Paso Hot Button, a one-man metal and fog machine from Oklahoma, stomping on his kick drum and wringing bluesy punk with nasal aplomb. He got the crowd into it for half an hour or so, but then every song started to sound the same, and the strobe light didn't help the situation.

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