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The American Analog Set

@ BOTH, 10/29 & 10/30

During American Analog Set's last trip to the Bottom on the Hill three years ago, an acquaintance in the audience nearby whispered, "What are these guys so depressed about? They're all like 21-years old."

Well, not quite. More like their 30s and getting too old for touring, according to their own description. And just because they play music that's slow doesn't mean they're sad (unlike their frequent touring partners and sometime collaborators, Her Space Holiday, who really do play wrist-slitting music).

The American Analog Set are the quintessential living room band, which is basically like a garage band that's trying really hard not to get in trouble with the neighbors. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Andrew Kenny often sings like he's whispering to you across a crowded room. Drums are played with brushes more often than sticks, and the guitar riffs sometimes sound like they're being played from behind a mattress. Let's just say I once found myself driving with my parents and the band's "The Fun of Watching Fireworks" was the only CD I had that my 60-something dad liked.

Kenny is fond of saying "Quiet is the new loud." Indeed, the band's sound does spring from the kind of deeply contrarian feelings that once sprouted punk rock. At a time when harsh-edged rap and metal have finally found their way onto airwaves, American Analog Set are willing to risk not only boring youngsters but possibly appealing to oldsters, playing pretty and often simple songs in 4/4 time. The band even acknowledged this on their 2001 breakthrough Know By Heart, naming a particularly mellow track "Punk as Fuck."

And in an age of sophisticated PC-based home recording studios, the band relies specifically on analog recording equipment (hence the name), often mixing in a consciously dated Hammond organ sound in the background. This gives their shows the kind of relaxed geekiness of a ham radio convention. It's the kind of audience that loud penis music can never draw, complete with tunes you can deliver your pick-up line over and still seem like a sensitive type. Incidentally, the guy who made the "what are they so depressed about" comment had been dragged there by his girlfriend, and, no surprise, they didn't last. It's the kind of thing American Analog Set would write a song about.


The American Analog Set
@ Bottom of the Hill
Sat, October 29, with Vervein and The Loneyhearts
$12, all ages, 10 pm (doors at 8:30)

Sunday, Oct. 30
$12, (21+) 9 pm (doors at 8)
with Vervein and Scrabbel