Charlotte-based singer-songwriter Jason Scavone, best known for his work with the Noises 10, makes his live Charlotte debut with his new group the Hot Gates this weekend. The Hot Gates play a cd release party for the debut album “Ride It Out” Friday, September 16, at Visulite (1615 Elizabeth Ave.) then turn around and play NC Music Factory’s Live Out Loud benefit Saturday, the 17th with Paper Tongues, S.O. Stereo, Carson, the Local Traumatic, My Epic and nine others.
Scavone (pictured above) enjoyed some success with the Noises 10. At one time the group regularly drew a few hundred locally. It worked with producer Eric Valentine (All-American Rejects, etc.) and was briefly signed with a couple of major labels. Sadly those big time connections didn’t amount to widespread acclaim or a major national release.
Luckily the experience didn’t completely sour Scavone, who deserves more large scale attention. I saw him open for Brandi Carlile as a solo artist a few years ago and was completely blown away by his voice in that raw, intimate setting (the video below is from that same tour. The song appears on a Valentine's Day Starbucks compilation called "I Got You Babe").
The Hot Gates filters the best of that solo experience and the Noises Ten’s pop-rock chops into something new.
The songs he’s written here are probably some of his most memorable. Maybe he carried lessons learned trying to craft pop songs with producers in L.A. into this project. But while Noises 10, a band that evolved from a piano-based canvas for Scavone to a formidable pop-rock unit, grew more sugary on its final album, “Ride It Out” balances sweetness with ample saltiness and bite.
At its heart rooted in pop and rock, “Ride It Out” is still fairly eclectic while remaining cohesive. There’s the sexiness of the infectious “Say Yes,” which shares the crisp bounciness of Neon Trees’ big hits. “The Ghost” is anchored in classic pop-rock in a Fleetwood Mac sort of way. The title track marries Ryan Adams-like Americana and the mid-tempo anthems of Oasis (Scavone does anthems well). “Whiplash” bounces along with a sort of `80’s style quirkiness. Think of pairing a Devo-ish chorus with swelling Ben Folds-like drive.
A lot of tracks take cues from classic rock and pop without sounding at all retro. Like fellow songwriter Ben Kweller, Scavone can pull off hard hitting power pop on songs such as "Ready or Not" just as well as the gentle, rootsy acoustic tracks like “Ma.”
The first time I listened to “Ride It Out” I didn’t realize it was Scavone. It was one of a number of downloaded files labeled by album title not band name. I mention this because I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what it should sound like. Was it a garage rock act from Detroit (where Scavone worked on the record)? England’s next buzzing indie band? I mention this because the Hot Gates sounds like it could come from anywhere. The production is sharp and the writing and arrangements are fully realized. And I can easily imagine a name like “the Hot Gates” printed in small type toward the end of the list of the lineup on next year’s Coachella or Bonnaroo posters.
The Hot Gates play with Small Talk Industries and the Spiveys Friday at Visulite. 8 p.m. $10. Saturday's festival begins at 2 p.m. in the NC Music Factory's Fountain Atrium (935 N. Graham St.). $20. www.ncmusicfactory.com