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Friday, Jan. 9, 2009
The name is cute: a mash-up of Glasgow, the band's hometown, and Las Vegas, the American Oz. In the great tradition of British bands appropriating U.S. cultural touchstones, Glasvegas take these twin geographic signifiers and turn them into a whole different country that nevertheless feels familiar to anyone with knowledge of old Hollywood movies and the pre-Beatles Top 40. Rumor has it that Lisa Marie Presley was so taken with the Scottish quartet's guitar-based "wall of sound" that she asked them to record with her. Such a story lends Glasvegas a retro cachet that may confuse the issue. Which Elvis comes to mind: the lean, leather-bedecked rocker or the sequined, fat Vegas fixture?
The music actually owes more to the Goffin-King, Mann-Weill school of postdoowop urban teen pop than it does to the King's R&B or country-gospel stylings. Such an approach is perfect for the melodramatic stories that guitarist James Allan writes and sings — fathers skipping out on families, husbands guilt-stricken over infidelities. And while his full-on Scottish accent places them firmly in Glasgow, they make just as much sense in Vegas, which is probably why the group has earned so much incredible cross-border love over the past year.
Overhyped by the usual suspects in the U.K., Glasvegas have already been nominated for top music awards in Sweden and sold out most of the dates on their recent American tour, even though their eponymous debut album came out in the U.S. only this week. It's been out here since November, and tickets for their two Japan shows are still available, but probably not for long. They're suckers for anthemic, melodramatic pop in Tokyo and Osaka, too.
Glasvegas play on Jan. 20 at Ebisu Liquid Room, Tokyo (7 p.m.;  3444-6751); and Jan. 21 at Big Cat, Osaka (8 p.m.;  6535-5569). Each show is ¥5,500 in advance.