by Brian Kalish
To say the Aimless Blades are an enigma would be an understatement. Let’s face it, when a band describes its sound using such cryptic terminology as “moody swamp-noir,” it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting into. True to form, the Blades’ somewhat mystifying performance March 5 at Circle A’s Alive at 8 raised more questions than it did answers. Circle A seemed like an ideal fit for the Blades. Walking into the 30-seat bar is like entering a David Lynch film, what with the velvet curtains, white-static TVs, and decapitated doll heads. The five attending band members — violinist Sarah Filzer was absent — overcame some early miscues and settled into a relatively strong set of songs before intermission. The second half of the show was less inspiring. The Blades lacked energy, with bassist Angela V-Elles providing the only noticeable spark on stage. Furthermore, singer Blaine Shultz’s Dylan-esque vocals wavered in and out of tune. At the beginning of the show, the vocal inconsistencies were forgivable and even endearing, but toward the end they damaged the quality of the songs. The show was by no means a total wash. The Blades are to be commended for the complexity of their song arrangements, which incorporate everything from harmonica and accordion to keyboard and slide guitar — no small feat for a live act. Their unique brand of folk rock is worth investigating. Why they were unable to deliver a more convincing performance may be the biggest mystery of all.