Sunday, Aug. 20, Atomic Cantina (21-and-over); Free: No matter how snide, hip and condescending indie rock is supposed to be, when it comes from San Diego, it’s going to sound a little bit like pop-punk sunshine. Even in Hot Like a Robot’s press photos, where the band has clearly been instructed to look cool and as though they’ve been brooding for days, it still seems a little forced.
This more emotional, more intense version of indie rock is a welcome one. Think of it as a kinder, gentler indie. These gentlemen seem like the type of folks who wouldn’t turn their collective noses up at you if you couldn’t name all of Belle and Sebastian’s albums. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them don’t even smoke.
Hot Like a Robot also rocks a little harder than most indie ensembles; really plunging away on their guitars and unafraid to let a yell or two out when they have to. There’s tangible angst in the vocals and a youthful, driving essence in even the most low-key tracks. Lead singer Jordan (last names appear to be optional in So Cal) sounds a bit like fellow San Diegan Scott Russo of the pop-punk group Unwritten Law.
The band’s latest record, Virgin, was released on Skeleton Crew Records, which is owned by My Chemical Romance’s Frank Lero. Those familiar with MCR (especially their most recent work) will most likely find Hot Like a Robot appealing, but more rigid indie fans have plenty of reason to come out on Sunday.