Arizona power-pop outfit Kinch moves ahead with catchy hooks and inconsistent emotion 

Kinch, Simpleton, Blake Fischer and Meddle
6:30 p.m. Tuesday
the Conservatory
8911 N. Western
$7 advance, $9 door

Making it as a band is a mix of fortuitous circumstance and talent. So far, Phoenix quartet Kinch have demonstrated a good bit of both, with a catchy mix of keyboard and guitar-driven music.

Formed by a trio of childhood friends, Kinch began in earnest after front man Andrew Junker, guitarist Brian Coughlin and drummer Jake Malone graduated college three years ago and decided to take their shot. They released a full-length, "Advances," in 2008 and followed it with a pair of EPs last year, all available for free download at Almost immediately, Kinch drew heady praise, with the Phoenix New Times rating "Advances" as the best local album of that year.

It's easy to see the appeal. The band vacillates between pretty, mid-tempo numbers akin to Coldplay, and ringing guitar pop with sharp hooks. Junker's voice is equally adept at an anthemic wail or lovelorn croon, and the act's facility with both gives Kinch's music an energetic ebb and flow.

"One thing I love about Andrew's songwriting is that there isn't a consistent mood. He can write a guitar-heavy rock song one day and then a totally slower, piano-driven tune the next day," Malone said. "That's one of our strengths."

Although they went to college in different places, the musicians spent the summer before their senior year together in California, cementing their decision to make music together. It was a tough slog when they first returned to Phoenix in 2007, but got a big break when local band Dear and the Headlights needed a last-minute replacement for its supporting act on tour. A mutual friend put them in touch, and Kinch had its first big opportunity.

Another big break came last year when, after having opened for it a couple times in Phoenix and the Midwest, veteran rock duo Local H invited Kinch on a tour " not just to open up, but to be a backing band on its spring tour, where at each stop, an audience member picked a Local H album from a hat to be played that night in its entirety.

"They needed a backing band because there are only two of them," Malone said. "We had to learn all the songs. It was kind of stressful at first, because they have six albums of material. You don't know what you're playing until right before you go onstage."

Kinch is currently writing and doing preproduction for its second full-length, which the members hope to record in August and release later this year. The band has already attracted the interest of a well-known music producer from the Northwest (Malone's leery of revealing the name), who's worked with several chart-topping indie-rock acts, not to mention his own.

"He listened to some of our stuff and was really impressed it was home-recorded. He's like, 'I think if you had the right gear, you'd really take it to the next level,'" Malone said. "We're very excited to see where it goes from here." "Chris Parker

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