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Sky High Sets from Young Love, Heavens

Two Loons for Tea could only be described as dreamy when they took the stage at Crash Mansion during CMJ’s opening singer/songwriter showcase. Sarah Scott’s vocals snapped from soaring to breathy in one verse, and with perfectly controlled flutters a la Billie Holiday, her band was both lush and bittersweet. While guitarist Jonathan Kochmer and drummer Tom Armstrong’s emotion was clearly written on their contorted faces as they played, Scott’s was only evident in her voice. Songs like “Crocodile” managed to be playful and uplifting, even despite the fact the band sometimes feel out of place: “We don’t really fit into the Seattle music scene,” Kochmer said. “And we’re perfectly content with that.”

With an impressive set of explosive, tightly syncopated songs, the aptly-titled Young Love, the stage-name of Dan Keyes, proved himself and his backing band a modern brand of earnest, electro-rock playboys at Sin-e. As the bass and drums pounded with urgency, Keyes’ vox flew miles above melodies delivered by his band’s frantic keyboard and spastic guitars. Citing Phoenix and Bloc party as influences, he belted out sing-along tales of romance and late nights while commanding the crowd to dance with him.

Heavens continued the love with smooth vocals and precise percussion, but wasted no time getting down to business. Rarely taking breaks during their hour-long set, the pace was fast and each song highly developed. Some had Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba receding from the microphone with an unblinking stare, while others saw him declaring melodic adoration. Imaginative playing from F-Minus’s Joe Steinbrick was enough to conjure Skiba’s thoughtful and impassioned lyrics: “Cut though miles of blood-red tape / Confessed a gaping mouthful / Too much too late” (“True Hate”). There was even a song dedicated to the stoners, but with such a hypnotic sound, it was clear Heavens were more than sky high. EMILY YOUSSEF / PHOTOS BY ERIC NOWELS