Mont Lyons pounds out a gritty, shadowy rock'n'roll. Tension rumbles in their songs, but doesn't quite boil: Instead of finishing with a pounding, all-cymbals rush, a high, keening note eerily faded off into the distance. The vocals work within this framework, pushing the boundaries of the tension without ever really spilling over into all-out attack mode. That's the type of sound that Mont Lyons cultivates: low-to-the-ground, punchy tunes with a deep sense of tension. The keys offer a dreamy counterpoint to some of the tension, but we all know that dreams can be more tense than reality itself.
The Pretty Black Chains sound different each time I hear them: this year's model is a three-piece with a heavily Led Zeppelin-influenced sound. The band trafficks in tension too, but in a much different way: they play the ups and downs, building and breaking down parts for greatest effect. The riff is all, but Pretty Black Chains doesn't just place the riff front and center every time. It's awesome when they do, but it's not all they do. The rhythm section is quite heavy and low, providing a thunderous backdrop for the riffs to lie down on. The vocals are less of a centerpiece than in previous incarnations of the band, but this allows for increased interplay between the three instruments.