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Even without a live band, Paloma and the Rubys shook the Catalyst.


Belles and the Ballers
Girl Band Picture this: four slender, not entirely unattractive young ladies swagger onto the stage wearing tight red dresses and high-heeled shoes. Their smiles are wide, their legs are long and the only person not staring is the guy checking IDs at the door. I know what you're thinking, and no, this is not a scene at a San Jose skin bar or some Hollywood bachelor party. This is last Thursday night at the Catalyst.

The girls of Paloma and The Rubys are not shy. If they were, something tells me they'd find another way to spend a night on the town. Think polar opposite of the introverted singer-songwriter. This is a stage show that sizzles, an act with enough sexual flair to light a Seabright bonfire. The girls open the set with a spicy pop tune, singing, "Can't stop us now," as if any member of the audience would attempt something so foolish. Despite cheesy (albeit well-rehearsed) dance moves and the unfortunate lack of a live band, Paloma and the Rubys managed to capture a good-sized crowd, something most bands that enter the Atrium's often-desolate quarters have a hard time accomplishing. But then again, most bands don't look like models out of a Victoria's Secret catalog. Opening for Paloma and her posse were the reggae rockers from the Hallway Ballers. The guys made the trip north from Moss Landing to showcase their Sublime- and Slightly Stoopid-influenced sound, and the drive was surely worth the price of gas. Sun-bleached melodies were infused with funky bass lines and spurts of hip-hop, while frontman David Grijalva kept things mellow with his smooth-styled vocals. The Ballers' sound was upbeat and instrumentally tight, with solid songwriting to boot. Could they be the area's next Expendables? Check them out at their upcoming gig in Pacifica and judge for yourself.

Pet Sounds
Saturday night found this dedicated Mūz reporter at the Perg, or Café Pergolesi for those unfamiliar to the hipsters' Cedar Street enclave. Though a limited selection of beer is on hand, most people here seem to prefer a dark cup of coffee and a cigarette to a bottle of brew. It's the kind of place a Kerouac or a Ginsberg would hang out—cool, post-modern, vaguely intellectual, if you will. It's not a shock, then, that the band headlining tonight's show fits the aforementioned description to a T. Mountain Animal Hospital took its name from a mobile veterinary clinic in Ben Lomond, but the band's sound is anything but rustic (or ailing, for that matter). Sort of a twist on the '70s prog-rock movement led by bands like Genesis and Yes, MAH bridges the classic with the modern, influenced by contemporary acts like the Mars Volta and Dredg. The band's style could easily be thrown into the indie category, but an element of larger-than-life texturing gives it a sound best described as epic rock. Soaring vocals by Cameron Harskamp float atop a field of whimsical melody, while drastic tempo changes and sweeping choruses add brightness and intensity to the music. Though their set lasted only about 40 minutes, Mountain Animal Hospital gave us all something to discuss over caffeinated drinks, ending what turned out to be another exceptional week for the local music scene.

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