Anyone who makes a habit of reading music magazines is probably sick to death of the new new wave, electroclash and the 80s revival in general, but there are some gems buried amidst all the bandwagon hoppers.
Local all-girl synth band Pony da Look's reference points have more to do with post-punk than electro-pop, which probably helps them stand out from most of the wannabe Peaches acts that have emerged over the past year. A live drummer and a lack of sequencers also serve to distinguish them, not to mention an increasingly captivating stage presence.
They played Saturday night at the Silver Dollar, which is now the new home for booker Dan Burke, who recently severed his ties with the Tequila Lounge.
While some 80s-inspired bands fare better in a corner in a dance club setting than onstage at a rock bar, Pony da Look's sound and attitude borrow enough from early punk to be able to stand their ground under the lights in front of an audience. Their edgy dynamic sounds oddly familiar but unlike anything you can actually put your finger on.
While it's unlikely they'll cross over into dance music any time soon, you never know what a well-executed remix could do for them. After all, few would have predicted the impact the punk-disco of the Rapture's House Of Jealous Lovers has had on forward-thinking DJs.
get a move on
After getting worked up by Pony da Look's angular electro-punk, a stroll down the street to the Cloak and Dagger for Anousheh's monthly Move On Up soul and reggae night was needed to relax and wind down.
Her guest this month was Iron Will, known for spinning roots reggae and dub at events around town. With good vibes all around, this party feels more like you're hanging out at a friend's house listening to records than out at a bar.
The Cloak and Dagger itself is a tiny little pub that often features interesting DJ nights, some focusing on vintage reggae, some on early punk rock and others dedicated to soul music.
While it's not intended to be a dance venue, on busy nights the small amount of floor space is often filled with gyrating bodies, making the trip from your booth to the bathroom an adventure in itself.
Friday nights at Alto Basso feature the deep house styles of Carlos Fuerte, who often brings special guests into the free weekly party.
Last week was a bit more mellow than usual, courtesy of a fresh snowfall and the post-New Year's lull, but those who made it out had fun. Fuerte played a bouncy mix of vocal, Latin and funky house. A good mixer, he also plays a lot of tracks that get overlooked by other DJs.
Alto Basso has installed a more permanent sound system and DJ booth in the basement to replace the makeshift set-up it started out with, and the word from DJs who've played there since is that it's made a big difference in how much they enjoy themselves.
It's still not a pounding, full-sized club system, but it does the trick for a venue this size. The bar is somewhere in between a low-key lounge and a small, intimate club. There's enough space and sound to encourage dancing, but not so much that conversation and relaxation are impaired.