Ugly Winners and Slow Trucks at Red Room


Ugly Winners

Ugly Winners started out with a steady-tempoed clean guitar arpeggio, very Tripping Daisy-ish. It reminded this reviewer of that narrow window of time when alt-rock wasn't the moping textural drudgery of grunge and hadn't yet given birth to indie. That impression kept up for the second track with a good mid-tempo straight ahead rocker, the kind one might expect from Sponge.

It was nice to hear throwbacks to a style that was sandwiched between the bombasticity of hair metal and shift in musical philosophy that evolved during the '90s. My mind was awash with the names and singles of bands I hadn't thought about since high school.

But when they started the third song, all that went away with a track aping the ultra-twang bends and semi-deranged warble of Isaac Brock and Lonesome Crowded West-era Modest Mouse. The resemblance was so strong, the song bordered on being a cover.

For the next song, they were back to the arpeggios and fuzzed out chorus. Then after that, back to to being Modest Mousekateers. The rest of the set was spent toggling back and forth between their two speeds: early '90s and late aughts. Even though Ugly Winners had spot-on execution, being that there's more a lot of the latter around, the first was more interesting.

Slow Trucks

The sound and performance of Slow Trucks is tricky to pin down. It's bright and brassy straight-ahead rock, but the tones aren't sharp or abrasive. The edges are round and fuzzy and the vocals are almost whimsical in tone. They sounded a bit like The Futureheads, but not really.

During their first three songs, I kept thinking of Loveburger, the ill-fated band from the party-film, Can't Hardly Wait. But I couldn't figure out why. Loveburger never played in the movie, so there wasn't any sound to compare it to.

But then it made sense. Slow Trucks sound like reminiscing, like a band you saw at a high school party emotionally and artistically magnified through the lens of memory: slightly dreamy but with the rollicking energy of the good times that stand out. It's sweet and mournful, but bold and unconstrained with the future twinkling just around the bend. What better symbol than Loveburger? A band who have their first gig, break up and reunite within the space of a few hours and without playing a single note.

Slow Trucks trucked ahead—slowly—for the rest of the set giving the audience plenty of time to ponder back to when we were 10 pounds lighter in body and spirit.