Some notes from last night’s show at O’Leaver’s…
Slender Means is a hard band to put your finger on. The five-piece from Seattle features a solid rhythm section and a frontman with a voice that’s just this side of Morrissey, but ballsier, more masculine, almost brassy. A good voice. Almost too good for the relatively straight-up adult-sounding pop music that they play. The guy next to me (who knows more about music than I ever will) said they reminded him of Greg Kihn or The Plimsoles or Graham Parker. They reminded me of Semisonic or Jonathan Richman, but not really. The only similarity to those bands is their ability to make smooth, balanced pop music. In fact, if they have a flaw it’s that, other than the frontman’s sonorous voice (and the sweet harmony vocals), nothing stands out about them. Sure, they’re first-rate musicians, but their songs lack a certain distinction that makes them stand out from the crowd. Does that really matter? Probably not to most people. But in this world where there seems to be 2 million bands with myspace accounts, having a quality that’s obvious and distinguishable is a must. Slender Means is a good band in search of an identity, and when they find it, look out.
When it comes to identity, Landing on the Moon has it in spades — three vocalists including an intense woman keyboard player, a dynamic over-the-top drummer and a bigger-than-life guitarist who wears his soul on his sleeve. They take chances with styles and dynamics, merging sprawling, poignant album rock with modern, quirky, post-rock tendencies. Whether you like them or not (and certainly those looking for standard-ish jangle-pop indie probably won’t), you have to admire their bravado in playing a style of music — with honesty and determination — that no other bands are even attempting around here.
By the way, you would never have thought it was a Monday night at O’Leaver’s. The place was packed like a Saturday night. Something’s going on around here, as last weekend seems to indicate. Everyone’s talking about Saturday night, where there were five shows/events simultaneously — Jenny Lewis at the Scottish Rite, Criteria at Sokol Underground, RFT at The 49’r, The Terminals at O’Leaver’s and The Groundhog Prom (wherever that was) — and all were either sell-outs or capacity-only events. It was a landmark weekend, and after a break for St. Paddy’s day, the following weekend should be just as busy. We live in a music town, folks. Forget about Austin.
Tomorrow, here, Pink Mountaintops.
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