Button down shirts with vests, wire-rimmed glasses and comb-overs are not necessarily ingredients in what I would consider a “rockin” evening. Superficial, maybe, but I like my rock stars to look like rock stars. Last night at Mercury Lounge may have been lacking in obvious rock stars, but while Inouk and The Double may not always look the part, the music is undeniable.
I’d seen Inouk once before and needed to see them again, and that’s where their power lies. Listening to their set reminded me of something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, though their sound is completely different from what any other band in New York is doing right now. Their songs veer from Jethro Tull sans flute, to blues bass riffs, to guitar lines that wouldn’t be out of place on a country record; every song seems to originate from a different reference point in ‘60s and ‘70s rock and folk music. I was so disconcerted with the variety of musical styles at their first show, what I ended up remembering was the high pitched, quick vibrato of singer Damon McMahon and how much I thought he looked like a pirate. I left last night with a more concrete understanding of their theatrical songs, unusual musical references and appreciation for the vocal interplay of brothers Damon and Alexander. I still don’t know if I like them as a band, but want to see them again - which is probably a good thing.
The Double is a band I first saw almost a year ago in the middle of a summer of seeing countless truly average bands, and have been hooked ever since. Combining the quirky rock of the Hold Steady, the sonic wash of Interpol and the keyboards and story telling of the Fiery Furnaces, The Double have managed to take the best elements from the above bands and bring them to an unexpectedly unique level. Songs like “Blanket on the Beach” and “Standing on a Levee” allow the singer to be as weird as he wants to be, wire-rimmed glasses and accountant hair cut proudly on display, while the guitarist and keyboard player create a gorgeous soundscape all completed by subtle-to-ferocious drumming. Both Inouk and The Double currently have records available, but check your local indie club listings because unlike a plethora of bands that bring so little to the stage, these are live bands in the best sense of the word, even though they may not look the part.