London sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow used to play together in a punk band called the Vulgarians, but when they decided they wanted to pursue a more restrained sound, they thought of the Melvins — usually not the first band that comes to mind when a person thinks of restraint. Specifically, the Thurlows chose to name their new band after a moment on the Melvins song “A History of Bad Men” when the tempo suddenly shifts downward and the bass lets out a deep grumbling sound.
The band 2:54 doesn’t really sound like that. After posting a couple of songs online two years ago, the Thurlow sisters got press attention and a following. They signed to the trendy Fiction Records label in the UK (they’re handled by Fat Possum in the States) and released an EP last year.
Their just-released self-titled debut long-player was produced by Rob Ellis, who has worked with PJ Harvey, and Alan Moulder, who worked with My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and other British greats. The influence of those ’80s and ’90s acts is all over 2:54’s sound, but the Thurlows strip things down until the past feels like a whisper running through their music.
Their signature sound has the sisters playing mid-tempo, minimalist guitar parts (very little strumming) and Colette crooning a sultry, minor-key melody over the top. A bass player and a drummer round out the lineup, but there’s still a lot of space in the mix. They’re not quite as sparse-sounding as the XX, with whom 2:54 has shared the stage, but the two bands share a similar vibe: young, smart, sexy, and a little dark.
2:54: Casbah, Wed. June 27, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $12.