IOTA is a great joint for catching up-and-coming artists, and this weekend it offers a triple bill of talented bands rapidly approaching the tipping point of commercial recognition.
The Getaway Car is a long-standing local favorite. The group's most recent CD, "All Your Little Pieces," features catchy rock influenced by the likes of Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, Squeeze and the Beatles, an admirable roster to emulate, indeed. Co-produced and mixed by Jeff Juliano, who has worked with John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Lifehouse, the full-length CD came quick on the heels of last year's "NYC," a more lo-fi EP that the band wrote and recorded in just over two days. One song from that EP was used nationally in a Pontiac commercial in 2004, and another helped the band score a slot at WHFS's prestigious HFStival.
When not revving their motors in the Getaway Car, singer Todd Wright, bassist Chris Reardon and guitarist Matt Miceli have worked as touring musicians with such acts as the Pat McGee Band, the New York Dolls and Tonic.
Spiraling's lead singer and keyboard player, Tom Brislin, has also had some great moonlighting gigs. He provided touring support for progressive rock heroes Yes and classic rocker Meat Loaf (including on VH-1's "Storytellers" show). Brislin's material, while retaining a certain arena-ready pomp, is more easily likened to popmeisters such as Ben Folds and the smarter strains of synth-driven '80s pop.
After releasing a full-length debut, "Transmitter," in 2002, the band scaled back to release a four-track EP, "Challenging Stage," this year. As Brislin explained in an e-mail interview: "It was about getting something out that was a snapshot of the live energy. We recorded most of the EP live in the studio, and we were also balancing our tour schedule around the sessions."
The lineup of the New Jersey-based outfit -- Brislin, bassist Bob Hart, guitarist Marty O'Kane and drummer Paul Wells -- evolved over the years from a band called You Were Spiraling, which recorded for an independent label run by They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh.
"We started sending him tapes of our early work, and he gave us a shot at opening up for TMBG at a few shows and a few months later, invited us to be part of the Hello CD club," Brislin said.
As simply Spiraling, a new name to reflect a modified sound, the quartet has opened for They Might Be Giants as well as the Violent Femmes and OK Go, bands that share Spiraling's knack for great pop hooks and a sense of the absurd.
Spiraling has also played frequently with the Argument, an alt-pop quartet from West Virginia that is also on Saturday's IOTA bill.
Brislin said the bands came to know each other through both bands' involvement with "Substitution Mass Confusion," a Cars tribute CD released last year on the independent label Not Lame Recordings. At the CD release party, both the Argument and Spiraling played, the latter being joined onstage by Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes for a rendition of "Just What I Needed."
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Iota Club & Cafe is located at 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Admission is $12 and limited to those 21 and over. The tentative set times are Spiraling at 9 p.m., the Argument at 10 p.m. and the Getaway Car at 11 p.m. For more information on the show, call 703-522-8340 or visit www.iotaclubandcafe.com. For more information on the bands, visit www.drivethegetawaycar.com, www.spiraling.net and www.theargument.net.
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