The Parting Gifts is a band that brings together Greg Cartwright — the singer-songwriter-guitarist who’s been the guiding light of the Reigning Sound and played in the Oblivians before that — with Lindsay “Coco” Hames, lead singer of the Ettes. The new band doesn’t sound all that much different from the Reigning Sound, but that’s not a bad thing. Under both names, Cartwright produces a seemingly endless string of concise, melodic tunes influenced by ’60s garage rock. The difference with the Parting Gifts is that the lead vocals switch back and forth between Cartwright and Coco, who adds a girl group vibe. (That’s not surprising, considering that Cartwright also did a record with Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las.)
Playing Friday at the Empty Bottle, the Parting Gifts made a strong case for the songs on their 2010 debut record, Strychnine Dandelions. As the set began, the band quickly buzzed through one tight, catchy rock song after another. Cartwright plays without a lot of fuss, keeping his guitar solos short and to the point. Coco’s a bit more lively, and her vocals were a key ingredient in the fun mix of sounds. The set lagged a bit at the end, as the band spent a little too much time between songs figuring out what to play, but it stayed fun whenever the music was going. It was the sort of music that made you want to shake a tambourine.