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This Little Underground: The mighty return of Floor

Live reviews of Drive-By Truckers, Water Liars, Stagnant Pools

Photo: Photo by Christopher Garcia, License: N/A

Photo by Christopher Garcia


At this point in their proven career, it would be bigger news if they delivered a bad performance rather than their characteristically good ones. And, unsurprisingly, this latest show (June 5, the Beacham) was one of the good ones. But their new material – of which Mike Cooley finally stands alongside Patterson Hood as a near-equal author – was great to hear live. Hopefully, after two well-attended shows in a row at a prime venue, the Truckers realize that they’re pretty welcome here.

But, as their stops here are starting to prove, seeing which opener the Truckers have in tow is becoming a special part of their shows. Last time, it was peerless underground heroes Centro-matic. This time, it was Mississippi up-and-comers Water Liars, whose new self-titled album on notable Mississippi indie label Big Legal Mess Records is a large, lovely thing. Standing in the deepening field between Two Gallants and Band of Horses, they make songs of heft, heart and beauty. They’re a bright young star in the galaxy of new Southern indie rock that’s definitely worth watching.

It seems Indiana’s Stagnant Pools – an otherwise very promising band – has lost its way a bit, and it showed in their subpar set opening for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (June 6, the Social). But besides an inferior performance, the more worrying part is that the limitations of their design are showing. For a shoegaze-inspired duo that’s gone all-in on guitar sonics, everything lives and dies by tone and song. When even one falters, it all falls down. On stage, the problem was the often thin, tinny guitar tone. In their new album, Geist, it’s the sense of song, which is anemic compared to their excellent 2012 debut LP, Temporary Room. Any band with a narrow effective range – and Stagnant Pools is one of them – requires focus. Sadly, they’ve lost a little bit of theirs.

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