Arts Desk

Last-Minute Pick: The Torches at Rock & Roll Hotel

If craft beers and academic discussions about the fermentation process aren't enough to whet your whistle, tonight's D.C. Beer Week kickoff event at the Rock & Roll Hotel (sponsored by City Paper, it seems, which has nothing to do this post) also features, among other bands, the swampy blues-rock of The Torches, a new project by Stephen J. Perron Guidry of The Cassettes.

While The Cassettes' 2006 album 'Neath the Pale Moon featured plenty of southern licks and a cacophony of various string instruments, The Torches' debut EP—due out Tuesday on Lujo Records—is a raucous mix of alt-country, blues-rock, and roots music more in tune with Guidry's musical upbringing. Tracks like "Mister Vampire" come on as fun, Seeger-esque folk ballads, but wrung through the same meat grinder that gave Tom Waits his signature growl. Guidry’s voice is not so unnaturally gravelly, but as a child he thought he could do a solid Louis Armstrong impression. “I’ve always been attracted to vocalists who have a fairly limited range but then figure out how to dance inside that range,” he told me in an interview for next week's One Track Mind column.

"Mister Vampire" features lyrics like “Mrs. Rice became a Christian, I became a saint” and “My neck was probably asking for it and now my blood, it runs true,” and it’s hard not to smile at Guidry’s pokes at the vampire craze, though he insists it wasn’t his only intent. “I didn’t sit down and wonder how do I make a ‘True Blood’ reference,” Guidry says. “I can be melodramatic and self-obsessed but only I know I’m doing that. There’s some layering.”

With Cobra Collective and New Rock Church of Fire. 10 p.m. 1353 H Street NE. $10.

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