Misterwives at the 6th and I Street Synagogue, Washington, DC

Misterwives at the 6th and I Street Synagogue, Washington, DC

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By Stephen Bradley, Riffs

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2014 – Trying to get a bead on Misterwives by catching their recent show at DC’s historic Sixth and I Street Synagogue is not an easy task. They’re an eclectic mix of styles swirling around with little hint of the foundation forming the basis for their sound. Their set bounced around this basement space, tossing off an addictive sound that was a bit like musical ADD.

It’s this interesting lack of a noticeable center that really drives Misterwives’ sound. Their live program made it seem as if they were attempting to incorporate every one of their ideas into each song they performed.

Even if Misterwives hadn’t mentioned they were releasing their first EP, “Reflections,” in January, it wouldn’t have been difficult to peg them for a relatively new band. The energy they put forth during their live show and the fact they seem to be throwing everything in their toolkit at the audience, suggests that they’re a pretty young band.

Casually listening to Misterwives at the Synagogue, one might be forgiven for thinking that the band is overextending themselves during their set as they bombard the audience with a bewildering variety of sounds. But that’s not the case.

Each song is this delightfully strange but always upbeat mix of soul and modern pop is driven by a flurry of danceable rhythms thrown in for good measure. So even though this band seems to operate around a perpetually rotating center, their seemingly random methodology keeps the set wildly interesting from start to finish.

Misterwives is still be developing their sound in a very general sense, trying to figure out what kind of band they are. This sense of experimentation leads Misterwives in several different directions, whether it’s a synth heavy sound in one song or a shift to a bass-heavy soul number in another. When they bring horns into the mix, it causes something of an internal conflict as they shift to a modern upbeat mid-tempo pop song immediately after.

The quirky shifting seems to fit the style this band is shooting for. The crossover feel they put out is never jarring, but there’s enough individual distinction in each song to make them seem functionally different.

The default focal point for the band is front woman Mandy Lee. Even as the band constantly transitions from one musical feeling to another, it’s important for them to at least have one consistent voice in the mix. That’s what Misterwives have here with Lee. Her vocals offer consistency and stability, and the band’s sound fits around her creating a consistent package amidst all the instrumental divergence.

It’s that eclectic style though that makes Misterwives’ live show so interesting. There’s a certain unpredictability that’s impossible to anticipate, and they make good use of the resulting energy through their set. There are a few rough spots here and there. But for the most part Misterwives is an emerging and promising band that will end up making their off-kilter sound seem completely normal and logical in the end.

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