VISITING ACT ‌ Neither artsy nor overly clever 

Patty Hurst Shifter belt out without problems

Guitar-heavy, pop-rock quartet Patty Hurst Shifter are all about the familiar Americana sound, denim bar-rocker image, and fun, no-frills live performances. Musically, the band comes up with some damn fine stuff: hearty guitar riffs, sophisticated melodies, and humor-filled lyrics. Their uncluttered approach and garage-y guitar-driven sound has as much in common with fellow Tarheel rockers like Let's Active, Superchunk, Whiskeytown, and The Connells as with classic Stones and Neil Young and such American, '80s-era college radio pioneers as the Replacements, the Plimsouls, Uncle Tupelo, and True Believers.

"I have heard that before — the 'N.C. sound' thing,'" says bassist Jesse Huebner, 33. "At the bottom of it all, we're just trying to make good, straight-ahead rock, you know? You can get really bogged down trying to think about what you shouldn't sound like or what people expect you to sound like."

Huebner, lead singer/guitarist Chris Smith, guitarist Marc Smith, and drummer Skillet Gilmore — just off two "CD release" shows in their hometown of Raleigh at — make it back into town this weekend in support of their brand-new LP, Too Crowded on the Losing End (Fontana/Universal).

"It seems like there needs to be a return to a three-or-four chord, old-fashioned rock 'n' roll band," Huebner says. "I grew up listening to the Beatles and the Stones — that's what makes the most sense to me."

Patty Hurst Shifter play at Cumberland's on Fri. Feb. 3. Cover is $6.


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