You know those bands that you just wanna shout to everyone and everything about? That’s kinda how I feel about local act Genuine Leather. A few months back, I went to see a friend’s band play at Cheer Up Charlies, and they happened to open the show. Their caffeinated power pop hit me right in my musical sweet spot, and I became a fan on the spot. You should too.
The band, fronted by The Gorgeous Hands‘ Chris Galis, has already released a slew of singles–including personal fave “The Viper (Found a Good Place for my Love)“–ahead of a planned (but at press time, unnamed) full-length. The latest is a percolating, head-bobbing ballad called “The Enemy.” Without gilding the lily more than I already have, suffice it to say that Genuine Leather should be on your short list of of local acts to see as soon as possible. They’re definitely on mine.
Usually you start with a band and go solo, not so in local singer-songwriter Seth Sherman’s case. Back in summer 2011, Sherman put out his debut solo record When The Moment Is True. It was, and still is, a gem of a record. It’s a tender, intimate sonic portrait (speaking of which, the water color painting of Sherman on the cover still makes me smile), a great example of pop music done very, very right. But as time went on, and Sherman played the songs live with other folks, he found he was looking for something a bit more collaborative. “I recorded a couple albums by myself, but I don’t like being in control,” he joked to our own Laurie Gallardo.
With that in mind, Sherman got himself a band together with singer and guitarist Morris Ramos, singer and autoharpist Devon McDermott, bassist Drew Schlegel and drummer Mark Henne. They call themselves Tinnarose. Earlier this month the band released their first single When You’re Gone b/w A Heart Needs A Home. They also stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A to perform some tunes. They closed the session with the sweet “Hard Loving You.” It’s almost many songs in one. A endearingly off-kilter country shuffle yields to a bit of a jazzy breakdown and then into pop goodness. I’d say the collaboration is working.
The Elizabeth behind Elizabeth & The Catapult is a classically trained pianist with a penchant for jazz and pop music named Elizabeth Ziman. In 2002 she was studying classical composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music when singer Patti Austin came through the school looking for back-up singers. Ziman toured with Austin for a year-and-a-half. After the tour was over, Ziman got together with drummer Danny Molad and guitarist Peter Lalish (both now in the band Lucius). The trio released Elizabeth & The Catapult’s self-titled debut in 2006. The group decamped from New York to Omaha to record their next album, 2009’s Taller Children, with producer Mike Mogis. Lalish exited the band before recording commenced on the group’s third full-length, 2010’s The Other Side of Zero.
A little over three years later, on January 21, Elizabeth & The Catapult’s latest record Like It Never Happened hit the streets. In the interim, Molad also left the group (although he did help produce), but Ziman stayed pretty busy. She picked up the guitar, played drums on tour with Kishi Bashi, and helped score a few films. The new record’s title track has something mystical about it. A bedrock beat keeps the song moving, but there’s a very interesting little rhythmic and melodic tick that repeats throughout the song. There’s something in the way that Ziman sings over it that’s incredibly enticing, like she’s reciting an incantation. It’s almost as if she’s asking you to join her on a long journey. You’re gonna go, even if you don’t know where you’ll end up. She also layers in subtle electronic effects, adding to the enigmatic air.
Photo by Mike Masaro
People, especially music critics, love genres. It helps us conceptualize where a band is coming from by putting some arbitrary label on them. But the rub lies in the fact that hardly any band (especially in 2014) adheres to just one “genre.” That’s why you get the maddening proliferation of hyphenated genre names (e.g. “proto-hardcore-psychobilly-folk-math-new wave-metal-rock”). Early on in their journey as a band, U.K. group Peggy Sue got labeled as a “folk” band. With their sparse, acoustic arrangements, you could hear why, but you could also hear that “folk” wasn’t going to cut it either. There was, and is, something more to them.
Friends Rosa Slade and Katy Young formed the band in 2005. They went by the name Peggy Sue & The Pirates before just going by Peggy Sue. A tour with Mumford and Sons upped the Brighton band’s visibility. Drummer Olly Joyce joined the fold by the time of the release of their 2010 debut full-length debut Fossils and Other Phantoms. A more (literally) electric and jagged Peggy Sue followed the next year with the release of their 2011 record Acrobats.
Earlier this week (Tuesday, Jan. 27) Peggy Sue picked up where Acrobats left off with their latest album Choir of Echoes. There are whispers of Peggy Sue’s more folk-inflected past on Choir of Echoes, but that’s it, only whispers. Peggy Sue’s become a dark rock act that can brood with the best of them. Even at its sunniest, Choir of Echoes has an almost elegiac quality to it. They allow songs to breathe cold wind through bare thorn bushes. The song “Idle” showcases the feel of the album. After a dirge-like vocal intro from Slade and Young with just far-off, reverby guitars to back them, the song comes crashing in, and when it hits, it hits hard. The tempo picks up, and “Idle” becomes anything but.
It took the New York band Lucius a little while to get going, but in the last year or so, things have been picking up pretty quickly. Frontwomen Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe have been singing together for nigh on a decade. They met whilst they attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and bonded over a love soul music and Bowie. They began writing songs together. The pair moved to Brooklyn where they met the rest of the Lucius crew, drummer Dan Molad and guitarists Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri. The band issued their self-titled debut in 2012, and followed up in fall 2013 with their first full-length Wildewoman.
Which brings us to “Turn It Around,” one of the record’s standouts. It starts off with a “Leader of the Pack” girl-group stomp (complete with the obligatory handclaps providing the backbeat). There’s tenacity in Laessig and Wolfe’s very complimentary vocals, but when the chorus hits, the song opens up the tough outside to show us a more vulnerable interior. And the music tracks the tale the pair tell in the song quite well. Leassig and Wolfe’s protagonist is unconcerned with consequences, yet she suffers them time and time again. “She can’t be bothered by the mistakes she’s made/But she’s forgetting that’s what guides you to the rightful path,” they sing. In the chorus they compare it to looking through the wrong end of a telescope, a figurative and (almost) literal myopia. Lucius the band may’ve exercised a bit more caution, but we’re very glad they took the leap.
Stay tuned because Lucius’ll be in Studio 1A TODAY (Jan. 29) at 3 p.m., and they’ll be at the Parish TONIGHT.