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The Orphins re-envision the revival

Crafting jagged and jet-propelled pop tones bound by an angular indie-rock dirge, the Orphins' dance-friendly dynamics have often caused the group to be pegged as yet another throwback to the now passe post-punk revolution. But the band's refined leanings and modest stage presence place the Orphins in a slightly more seminal category: Claiming influences from such defining alternative rock luminaries as the Cure and the Pixies, the Orphins' sound unfolds with an emphasis on distinction and experimentation rather than fashionable regurgitation.

"The only reason I ever listened to a group like the Rapture was because someone said we sound like them. Now almost every review we get compares us to them," says guitarist/vocalist Thomas Barnwell.

"We started out coming from more of an art-rock/surf-rock combination and slowly integrated more of a punk sound into it," says dueling guitarist/vocalist Daniel Upton. "Instead of going from a rough to a cleaner sound, we went the other way."

With a limited catalog consisting of only one split single with the Liverhearts and a brand new full-length titled Drowning Cupid, on local upstart label Goodnight Records, the Orphins' members are a surprisingly accomplished bunch. Barnwell and Upton's guttural interplay over bassist Jen Wyrick and drummer Max McDonough's rhythmic output balances a concisely modern sensibility in a framework of distant and lo-fi features.

The Orphins' strongest qualities lie in a distinctive take on classic and current sounds that defies categorization but points to something much more defining in the future. Maybe even a new alternative revival.

The Orphins play the Earl Thurs., April 29. $7. 9:30 p.m.

Drivin' n' Cryin' has always been a band for the people.

There has never been much distance between the band and the fans. Hell, if you had stuck around long enough, you just may have found yourself in the band, or at least in the family.

John Kincaid was one of those fans, and after almost 20 years, the roles have reversed, and now DNC is Kincaid's biggest fan. Kincaid recently had quintuple bypass surgery and Kevn Kinney decided to play a benefit to help with Kincaid's medical expenses.

"Kevn asked if we could try to raise a little money and have some fun, and I said, 'Yeah,'" says bassist Tim Nielsen.

In 1985, Nielsen and drummer Paul Lenz left the since-reformed Nightporters to join Kinney, and the three took on the name of one of Kinney's songs, "Drivin' n' Cryin'." Kincaid's favorite DNC lineup included Lenz, who hadn't played with the band since 1988, and so on May 6, the original group will reform and perform Scarred But Smarter, its debut album, released in 1986 on local label 688 Records.

Scarred But Smarter came to represent a high point in the Atlanta music scene and the upcoming gig promises to attract those who were there 20 years ago and those who just want to get a taste.

"The group was born here in Atlanta," says Nielson. "It inspired us to be who we were."

Lenz and Nielsen will be pulling double duty, as they also will be performing in the opening slot with the Nightporters.

Drivin' n' Cryin' plays Variety Playhouse Thurs., May 6. $15.