Sound Bites: Mandolin Orange, The Go Rounds, and more

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Mandolin Orange. Photo provided

Friday, May 11
Mandolin Orange
Artisphere: Culinary Arts Stage, 7 p.m.
In-store performance at Horizon Records (2-A W. Stone Ave.), 3 p.m.

It’s been five years or so since Mandolin Orange has played in Greenville, and if you caught them the last time they were here, you might be surprised by the modern-day version of the group. What was once an acoustic duo of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz has expanded into a five-piece group, and that’s how they’re making their new album, the follow-up to 2016’s more stripped-down “Blindfaller.”

Marlin, the group’s guitarist, mandolin player, banjo player, and main songwriter, says the expansion isn’t so much about the instruments as it is the people playing them. “It’s not about feeling like we have to do one thing or the other,” he says. “I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve expanded and continued to travel as a five-piece is because we’ve got a really good group of folks to play with. We trust everyone who’s on the stage.” He does admit though, that playing the band’s older, smaller-ensemble material with a larger group has been great. “It’s more fun,” he says. “It’s wide open. You’re taking these kinds of skeleton tunes and seeing how people react and bring their own ideas to those tunes.” –Vincent Harris

Friday, May 11
The Go Rounds
Artisphere: WYFF-4 Main Stage
8:15 p.m.

The most pervasive element in the genre-spanning Kalamazoo, Mich., quartet The Go Rounds’ music is psychedelia. Whether they’re stretching out a groove-heavy rock song or an effortlessly catchy pop tune, there’s an otherworldly feel to the band’s Day-Glo harmonies and shimmering, liquid guitar lines. “Our influences are pretty diverse,” says guitarist Mike Savina. “We dive back into first wave rock ‘n’ roll, but we’re definitely steeped in psychedelia. Not so much the San Francisco acid-rock bands, but more the era of experimentation in the studio and using different sounds to create diverse and contrasting themes in the music.”

The band has been unusually prolific for a group that makes its living on the road (releasing four LPs and four EPs in the last five years), and The Go Rounds have refined or expanded their musical grasp on each successive release. “It’s a consistent evolution,” Savina says. “We’re driven by the compulsion to record and perform music. We’ve been on the road a lot and writing material based on those experiences. Bringing them to the stage is that final phase of cementing the arrangement. It isn’t till you take it out of the woodshed that you see its final form.” –Vincent Harris


Friday, May 11
Sun Parade
Artisphere: WYFF-4 Main Stage
6:30 p.m.

Listening to the music of the Northampton, Mass., quartet Sun Parade is a delightfully schizophrenic experience. Led by two singer/songwriter/guitarists, Chris Jennings and Jeff Lewis, the band often operates in two different modes, depending on who wrote the song. Jennings’ tunes are edgier, with churning rhythms, slashing guitars, and angular vocal hooks often coated in distortion. Lewis tends more towards dreamy, layered guitar-pop, with blissful vocal harmonies and effortlessly catchy choruses. So what is it that drew these two very different writers together initially? One of the best bands in history, of course. “It was the Beatles, all the way,” Lewis says, with Jennings adding that they two became friends in their teens by playing Beatles songs together. The respect for that band’s approach carries over to the band’s approach to recording. On their newest album, “Shuggy Mountain Breakdown,” there’s a glowing, otherworldly production aesthetic that stays in place from song to song, even as the styles change, which makes the album seem like a thematically linked work instead of just a set of songs. “The way we pieced it together and recorded it, it turned into a really nice album,” Lewis says. “Every song doesn’t sound totally the same, but there’s a consistency to it in terms of the warmth of the sound.” –Vincent Harris

Saturday, May 12
Lines In The Sky w/ Tides In Transit & Seven Year Witch
Radio Room
110 Poinsett Highway 
8 p.m.

Lines In The Sky has created an exciting synthesis of progressive rock complexity and pop songwriting hooks, taking songs with dizzying solos and tricky time signatures and making them deceptively catchy. It’s an interesting game of cat and mouse between accessibility and experimentation, a tightrope that the band loves walking. And in order to illustrate how they walk that tightrope, the band’s singer/guitarist Jesse Brock gives an interesting example. “Sting has this song called ‘Seven Days,’” Brock says. “We actually play it live sometimes. That song is in 5/4 time, but the way the beat is in that song, you can still bob your head and groove to it. You can still feel the pulse.” And if it seems like a band making their complex songs catchier might be a compromise, Brock says Lines In The Sky sees it differently. “The reality is that writing catchy songs isn’t easy at all,” he says. “Finding a way to make an odd rhythmic groove and write a catchy melody over it, and then play it and sing it at the same time is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.” –Vincent Harris

Saturday, May 12th
TC Costello (tour kickoff show)
The Velo Fellow
1 Augusta St., Greenville
8 p.m.

TC Costello may feed a lot of punk attitude and velocity into his accordion-fueled sea-chanteys and gypsy music, but he knows how to make a crowd happy, especially on his increasingly popular tours overseas. “One thing that definitely helps me connect on those European shows is when I learn some of their country’s songs,” Costello says. “For example, last year when I toured Eastern Europe, I learned a Czech song, a Bulgarian song, and a gypsy-language song that’s popular in the Balkans, so that really helps.”

Costello first became enamored with the idea of blending punk with traditional music when he saw a band called The Zydepunks a few years back, but he’s quick to add that his music might have turned out that way regardless. “I caught a Zydepunks show and thought, ‘Oh my god, I really, really want to do that,’” he says. “They were doing traditional stuff-meets-punk, and I liked the idea of putting my own spin on that. But whenever I jam with people, they always complain about me speeding up too much, so it kind of comes out punk without me even trying.” –Vincent Harris

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