The McLovins used New Year’s Eve 2011 to debut their new guitarist line-up. The new members were introduced during the band’s inaugural New Years Eve show as part of the Nectars Concert Series at Arch St. Tavern in Hartford, CT. Barely 24 hours after their emotional last show with founding guitarist Jeff Howard, bassist Jason Ott and drummer Jake Huffman welcomed Justin Berger and Atticus Kelly as the band’s new guitarists. Kelly and Berger are freshman music students at The Hartt School in Hartford, and both guitarists are able to draw from a wide and varied musical background which is firmly grounded in jazz and rock with Berger well versed in the jam and indie music scene.

The band’s first set of the night featured a classic opening cover, “Shakedown Street” followed by the McLovins’ standards, “Close to the Line,” “TETOP” and “On The Way Up.” This portion of the set was leisurely paced and well constructed, leading up to the anthemic “Tokyo Tea,” “Deep Monster Trance” climax and a pre-midnight set break.

The second set kicked off just before the ball dropped and started with Kelly on lead performing a jazzy “Auld Lang Syne” that smoothly flowed into “Cohesive,” one of the three collaborations between The McLovins and Phish lyricist Tom Marshall that will appear on the upcoming spring release, Who Knows?. The remainder of the set featured “Killing Time,” “MilkToast Man” and a cover of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” The set ended with two new Mclovins songs co-written with Berger and Kelly, “Day to Day” and the unreleased “Birthday” before a “Purple Trees” encore finished off the night.

So far 2012 has kicked off on the right foot for this rising band with the addition of dual guitarists. The freshman duo showed up to play, bringing with them a fiery musical tension adding a dense melody to the night’s performance. The solid rhythmic team of Huffman and Ott provided an ideal musical backdrop for Berger and Kelly to trade off leads and to help weave the infectious groove that has become a McLovins trademark.

After such an auspicious debut, one can not help but feel excited for the coming growth and evolution of The McLovins. Not content to rest on successes had in previous years, this new quartet is firmly focused on the task at hand and looking towards their future with 20/20 vision.