Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fitz and the Tantrums at Irving Plaza

Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick purchased an old Conn electronic organ in 2008. That same night, he wrote the song "Breakin' the Chains of Love." He contacted his college friend, saxophonist/keyboardist James King, who recommended singer Noelle Scaggs and drummer John Wicks. In turn, Wicks brought in bassist Joseph Karnes and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna. Fitz and the Tantrums was born. The Los Angeles-based neo-soul band performed its first show at Hollywood's Hotel CafĂ© in December 2008, which Fitzpatrick booked one week after the band’s first rehearsal. The band has released two EPs and two albums, including the More Than Just a Dream LP, released on May 7.

At Irving Plaza tonight, on a night off as the opening act on Bruno Mars’ arena tour, Fitz and the Tantrums played before its own fans. The band performed a 90-minute set derived from its two albums, plus a cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” The band’s catalog was comprised of short pop melodies driven by a blend of soulful vocals and rocking musicianship. In some ways, the band’s performance was a few beats removed from a standard weekend hotel lounge band, in that all the songs were safe, smooth and made for grooving. The difference was that the Tantrums’ songs were original, fresh and dynamic. The innovation stemmed from the Tantrums not simply copying the soul style of the 1960s, but incorporating its dominant features of melody, chorus and vocals into a fresh and organic marriage with modern pop instrumentation without the domination of an electric guitar. Meanwhile, the 42-year-old bandleader and lead singer Fitz and even more so his co-vocalist Skaggs encouraged fan reaction with their stage presence, showmanship and party-command interaction, engineering a more intimate camaraderie with the audience. The Tantrums’ performance proved it was hip enough to transcend late-night television shows, Top 40 radio and corporate jingles.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Queen V at Tammany Hall

Born and bred in Montclair, New Jersey, the woman who calls herself Queen V began showcasing her songs at New York clubs including CBGBs, Don Hill’s and the Bitter End. With her band, which also became known as Queen V in 1996, she landed some challenging opportunities, opening for Twisted Sister on Long Island, Bon Jovi in New Jersey, and Billy Idol in New York and along the West Coast. Through gigs at the Viper Room in Los Angeles, she gained fans in Lemmy Kilmeister of Motorhead and Tom Morello of Rage against the Machine, both of whom contributed to her new album, The Decade of Queen V. Queen V celebrated the release of the new album with a performance party at Tammany Hall tonight.

At Tammany Hall tonight, Queen V rocked – and I mean really rocked. The band rocked so hard and so well that I wondered why I had never heard of Queen V before this gig. In an era where the spotlight on rock often is thrown to indie rockers and rappers, Queen V provided the antithesis – a classic rock sound performed masterfully. Each song was punctuated by strong and passionate vocals, frequently stinging guitar leads, a powerful rhythm section and lots of rock and roll swagger and attitude. Think of other female-fronted classic rock bands, like Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Pat Benatar, and know that Queen V rocks harder, on a level approaching newer bands like Paramore, Flyleaf and Hunter Valentine. Given the exposure, Queen V will stand the test and impress large rock audiences.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

3beanstew at the Wayland

On its website, 3beanstew is described as an experimental rock/funk band based in Brooklyn, New York. The unit is led by vocalist/keyboardist Kwame Brandt-Pierce and features guitarist Seth Johnson, bassist Ed Goldson and drummer Ramsey Jones. The quartet released a 1998 album, The Untold Chronicles of Tin Man Charlie and performs a monthly gig at the Wayland in Manhattan and WMC in Brooklyn.

At the Wayland tonight, 3beanstew demonstrated an ambitious and eclectic blend of innovative sounds. One moment the band plays hard funk rock like Parliament/Funkadelic, complete with Eddie Hazel-like lead guitar work. Moments later, the band becomes a jazz funk band. Brandt-Pierce’s vocals sometimes recall Stevie Wonder, while other times it is intensely harsh. Maybe all this switchover is what makes the music experimental, but overall it is interesting, engaging and worth a listen. The band returns to the Wayland on July 23.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dawes at Terminal 5

Salvaged from the remnants of another band, Taylor Goldsmith (guitars and vocals) and his brother Griffin Goldsmith (drums) formed Dawes in 2009 in Los Angeles, California, with Wylie Gelber (bass) and Tay Strathairn (keyboards). In the band's short career so far, two claims to fame were Bob Dylan selecting Dawes as his opening act on tour and the band performing at Occupy Wall Street. The band’s third album, Stories Don't End, was released on April 9.

There is a buzz about this band, and the performance at Terminal 5 tonight demonstrated why. This was pleasant soft rock music you could enjoy with your dad as well as your baby sister. The band featured a few extended guitar and keyboard jams to make this a musicians’ band, but overall the spotlight was on the gentle folk pop compositions and strong, clean vocals. The band’s music leaned towards country, but never actually got there, remaining in the classic radio-friendly singer-songwriter vein. Many songs were so mellow that it was a stretch to call Dawes a rock band. Yet, Dawes mined and mastered this vintage sound well. Dawes might be the band to bring back the acoustic-based suburban California sound popularized in the 1970s by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Rancid at Terminal 5

Childhood friends Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman played in various punk and ska bands in the Berkeley, California, area until they formed Rancid in 1991. Bringing a love of 1970s punk music to a new MTV audience, Rancid quickly became one of the cornerstone bands of the 1990s punk revival, along with Green Day, the Offspring, Bad Religion, NOFX and similar bands. The band released seven studio albums, one split album, one compilation, two extended plays, and a series of live online-only albums, and sold over four million records worldwide, making it one of the most successful independent punk groups of all time. Rancid will release its eighth studio album, In a Warzone, on June 25. The band is touring in support of the 20th anniversary of the release of its first self-titled album. The present line-up of Rancid is comprised of Armstrong on guitar and vocals, Freeman on bass and vocals, Lars Frederiksen on guitar and vocals, and Branden Steineckert on drums.

With a two-night engagement at Terminal 5, Rancid proved its capable leadership in possibly yet another punk rock revival. Although the band switched directions a few times on albums, the live set was a perfect blend of the Clash’s denunciatory socio-political commentary and fascination with ska, the Ramones’ wall of sound, the rowdy celebration of Flogging Molly and the exhilarating crunch of many post-hardcore bands. This was music with a rallying attitude; the choruses for most of the songs were repetitious cries for fists-in-the-air solidarity in identity and community. Rancid’s energetic performance was played directly to the audience, encouraging both moshing and singing along. Guitar solos were kept to a minimum; they would have been a diversion from the hurricane-force of the vocals and power chords. At the Terminal 5 shows, Rancid reigned as among the greatest live bands ever in punk music.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Say Anything at Irving Plaza

Max Bemis of Say Anything is now a blond.
Max Bemis has been writing and singing songs since he was in high school. A transplanted New Yorker, he formed Say Anything in Los Angeles, California, in 2000 with four of his friends, all of whom are no longer in the band. Say Anything presently consists of Max Bemis (vocals), Jacob Turner (guitar, vocals), Jeff Turner (guitar, vocals), Parker Case (keyboard), Garron Dupree (bass) and Reed Murray (drums). The band’s sixth album, Anarchy, My Dear, was released in 2012.

Bemis has had well-documented bouts with bipolar disorder and drug addiction and, at Irving Plaza tonight, his lyrics authentically came from a place of pain and confusion. The strangely literate and passionate songs seemed to be literate and intensely cathartic. The fan base that loudly sang along to most of the songs indicated that a considerable population related to his messages of alienation and unrest. Say Anything’s concert could be described as emo, but that would be a struggle, as it was largely comprised of odd, untraditional and unclassifiable indie music. Honestly, the crowd loved it, but I just did not get it. I will have to pass on this artist. Say Anything performs at Irving Plaza again tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bad Cop at Pianos

When he was nine years old, Adam Moult’s family moved from Joplin, Missouri, to Nashville, Tennessee. Three years later, he was playing in punk bands at a local pizza parlor. Three years after that, he was sent away against his will to a “prison alternative” boarding school for at-risk youth, where the conditions were so abusive that the institution was sued out of existence. While he was incarcerated in this North Georgia youth prison/boot-camp, Moult starting writing songs that reflected his anguish. Upon returning to Nashville in 2008, he formed Bad Cop. Bad Cop released the album Harvest the Beast in 2010, but shortly thereafter, Moult scrapped the entire band, choosing to re-launch with longtime friend and collaborator Alex Harkness. They solidified the lineup with bassist Mike Frazier and drummer Kevin Kilpatrick and recorded the group's latest EP, Light On.

At Pianos tonight, Bad Cop proved that country music is not the only music being spawned in Nashville. With roots that were equal parts classic blues-rock and punk rock, Bad Cop ended up sounding like a spin-off of the Who circa 1967, somewhere between the mod pop assault of “Magic Bus” and the explosive power of Tommy. The song structures borrowed from the Who’s pent up dynamics with a Roger Daltry-styled moderation. Yet Bad Cop’s music sounded darker and more unnerving. Maybe Moult’s music originated from a dark place because Moult himself emerged from such a dark place. Bad Cop’s performance was engaging because, like much true art, the music articulated an inner angst.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Dirty Pearls at the Mercury Lounge

About five years ago in New York, Tommy London decided he wanted to front a rock band that played the music he loved – the 1970s-style hard rock that attracts tightly clad women to the edge of the stage. He located guitarist Tommy Mokas and drummer Marty E., then guitarist Sunny Climbs and bassist Doug Wright. The Dirty Pearls began at Arlene’s Grocery and in just a few years, the growing fan-base has filled the band’s headlining gigs at the Bowery Ballroom four times. The band members’ old friend, Lady Gaga, who was a struggling artist playing the Lower East Side club circuit at the time the Dirty Pearls was getting started, mentioned the band in her song "Heavy Metal Lover." The band has released one full-length album, Whether You Like It Or Not.

At the Mercury Lounge tonight, the Dirty Pearls proved that despite the current indie inundation, straight-up no-chaser rock and roll will never die. Relatively new but classic rock-sounding, the band delivered a 60-minute set with the swagger and bravado of early Kiss, the New York Dolls, the Heartbreakers, the Rolling Stones, Billy Idol and Guns ‘n Roses. The songs delivered what they promised, with sharp hooks, anthem-like melodies and lyrics about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Yet, although known for the dirtiest-sounding rock in New York, the band introduced a few new softer and more polished songs that will clean up the band’s image a bit. Tonight’s performance gave hope that the Dirty Pearls will be among the torch bearers that will preserve the legacy of New York rock and roll.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Technicolors at the Mercury Lounge

The Technicolors formed in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2010 with vocalist/guitarist Brennan Smiley, lead guitarist Mikey Fanizza, bassist Michael Nicolette and drummer Kevin Prociw. (The band currently features a touring keyboardist as well.) The band has released two albums; last year’s Listener features the present core band lineup.

First impression at the Technicolors performance at the Mercury Lounge tonight: yet another band of skinny guys in moppy hair and tight jeans playing standard fast-and-frenzied garage-band indie rock behind an angst-emoting singer. Second impression: by the second or third song, hey, these guys are far more proficient players than the typical indie musician. Third impression: this is an outstanding young rock band experimenting within the indie framework to move creatively beyond the limits of the genre. The Technicolors generally played a familiar rock sound, but on many of the later songs in the set let loose with brief but sophisticated musical journeys. The band has far more depth than many indie bands that are primarily a backup band for a singer/songwriter front person. The Technicolors are worth a listen.

The Von Shakes at the Mercury Lounge

Three of the four Von Shakes are childhood friends from Dublin, Ireland, and have been playing as a group since their teens. Now in their early 20s, vocalist/guitarist Patrick Brazel, lead guitarist Hugh O’Reilly and bassist Cillian McSweeney moved to Brooklyn about two years ago after playing all the local clubs. Drummer Ryan Normandin from New Hampshire joined the group after the original drummer left. The band is now playing all the local clubs in New York, with dates already at the Knitting Factory, Spike Hill, the Bitter End, the Delancey and Arlene's Grocery. Tonight’s show at the Mercury Lounge was the group’s 250th concert performance. The band has recorded an EP, Almost Nobody, and hopes to release an album, Bohemia, by autumn.

Is it possible for a band from Ireland not to be inspired by U2? Judging by the Von Shakes performance at the Mercury Lounge tonight, maybe not. The Von Shakes demonstrated a bit of that guitar sound and vocal dynamic. Throughout the set, the band played all up tempo pop rock songs with a slight indie edge. The set was comprised of adrenalin-pumping, guitar-driven songs built around hook-based anthem-like choruses, light vocals and stinging guitar lines. The performance was strong, but there are a lot of promising bands making similar music in the New York club scene. The band is working hard, and in time should get the attention it deserves.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Screeching Weasel at Irving Plaza

Screeching Weasel was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1986 and broke up and reformed numerous times, with at least 20 line-up changes. Ben Weasel (born Ben Foster) is the only constant member, with some of his former band mates formally claiming that the present band is not Screeching Weasel. The present lineup consists of Weasel on lead vocals, Zac Damon and Mike Hunchback on guitars, Pierre Marche on drums, and a bassist so new that I could not locate his name. Screeching Weasel recorded 12 studio albums.

Punk rock is alive and well, judging by the Screeching Weasel performance at Irving Plaza tonight. After 27 years, the band’s songwriting and performance formula remains the same. Sounding very much like the band that inspired them, the Ramones, the members of Screeching Weasel played short and fast songs about girls and mental health issues, even covering the Ramones’ “Lobotomy.” In authentic 1980s punk spirit, Weasel as elder statesman for punk rock, splayed one leg straight back and crouched on one bent leg forward, as he leaned forward and sang aggressively with a sneering attitude. Behind him the band played a three-chord buzz-saw rave-up. Even when a bit of an electric guitar lead was squeezed in between verses and choruses, it was simply a modified melody line. The songs followed one another in quick succession, and the few times the band stopped long enough for Weasel to get a few words in, anything he said seemed to seethe in bitter snootiness. In the end, the concert offered nothing new or progressive, but a time travel visit back to what made punk rock attractive in its early years.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Robert Leslie at Googie's Lounge

A troubadour performing original compositions must have stories to tell. Robert Leslie has stories to share. He was born in New York, grew up in London and Amsterdam, and spent the last few years traveling throughout Europe and North Africa. At Googie’s Lounge tonight, barefoot and accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, Leslie sang songs he wrote in Prague, Morocco and even a song he wrote upon returning to New York in February. Each song sparkled with picturesque lyrics. Leslie had a soft, sweet vocal delivery, but some of his melodies sounded like their phrasings were inspired by Bob Dylan. Oddly, Leslie ended his set with a Radiohead cover. Leslie is selling his one album and two EPs through his bandcamp website.

Fifth Nation at Boss Tweed's Saloon

California-born singer/guitarist King Julia (aka Jayla Day and Julia Richardson) grew up in old Mohawk territory in upstate New York. She abandoned her college studies in biology and relocated to Austin, Texas, to follow her passion and make music. British-born percussionist Musik Read traveled the world as the child of a military officer and also settled in Austin. They met on a backyard stage in 2009, made music together and fell in love. Fifth Nation was born. By the end of the year, the lovers relocated to Brooklyn to launch the next chapter of a music career. Fifth Nation has recorded two albums, two EPS and two singles, all available for free download at the band’s website, www.fifthnationmusic.com.

At Boss Tweed’s Saloon tonight, Fifth Nation demonstrated a spry mastery of pop, soul and hip hop. Unlike other guitar/drum duos, Fifth Nation did not integrate loops and other programmed music to fill the gaps. The two musicians kept the music simple, with an electric guitar for melody and a small drum kit for rhythm. Julia sang soulfully, at times sounding as sultry as Amy Winehouse, and Read offered the hip hop vocal parts. The sound was rich, yet charmingly sparse and organic. Rock and soul has not been this good in a long while.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dee Pop's Private World at the Parkside Lounge

Dee Pop has played in New York-based punk and free jazz bands for more than 30 years, and is best known for his work in the Bush Tetras. His newest project, Dee Pop's Private World, however, embraces yet another direction. At the Parkside Lounge tonight, Dee Pop’s Private World performed an impressive set of Americana music — rockabilly, blues, rhythm and blues, swing, country and gospel — all played through the filter of modern garage band rock and roll. The songs were delivered in true rock and roll fashion – short and punchy, with catchy choruses that encouraged the listeners to bob their heads and move their lips. The band is comprised of Phil Gammage on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Billy Pidgeon on guitar, Rich Demler on bass, Don Fiorino on guitar, lap steel and banjo, David Aaron on tenor sax and Pop on drums and vocals.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Heavy at the Webster Hall Ballroom

Vocalist Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor became friends in their native England in 1998, bonding over a love for vintage soul music and Jim Jarmusch films. The duo recruited bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul to form the Heavy. The Heavy recorded its first album in 2007, and it was released in the United States in 2008. The band’s third and most recent album, The Glorious Dead, was released last summer.

At the Webster Hall Ballroom tonight, the Heavy showed that despite several digital samples on its most popular album cuts, the ensemble is primarily a live band. The music was as guitar-hard and bass-heavy as Black Sabbath or the Beastie Boys, but overlaid with Curtis Mayfield-like rhythm and blues-inspired vocals. The heavy added two saxophone players and two backup vocalists to the touring group, but they were barely audible and seemed like window dressing to the core music made by the lead instruments and rhythm section. Swaby was an energetic front man who spent the show pacing the stage, often crouching at the edge and leaning into the audience, and engaging the audience to bounce or sing along. Toward the end of the set, he announced that the last few songs would be call-and-response; he then pointed his vintage microphone into the audience during the hook lines. The Heavy’s performance demonstrated that it is neither a soul band nor a hard rock band, but falls somewhere in a genre-defying middle.

The Silent Comedy at the Webster Hall Ballroom

In 1996, the father of Jeremiah and Joshua Zimmerman sold all of the family’s possessions to travel as an itinerant preacher throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Russia and the United States. Meanwhile, his two sons created music, playing folk instruments in the foothills of the Himalayas and drawing crowds around pianos at Spanish shopping malls. Ten years later, finally settled in San Diego, California, the brothers formed a band, the Silent Comedy. The group recorded original Americana-inspired music on two albums and two EPs, including the most recent EP, Friends Divide.

The Silent Comedy opened for the Heavy at the Webster Hall Ballroom tonight and impressed with their energetic set of roots-rocking songs. Joshua Zimmerman (vocals, bass), Jeremiah Zimmerman (vocals, keyboards, guitar), cousin Chad Lee (drums) and long time friend Justin Buchanan (mandolin, banjo) played music that featured elements of blues, folk, bluegrass, and the revival meetings they grew up attending. Primarily, however, the music felt like it was shamelessly created and sustained by a rowdy and possibly seedy whiskey bar culture. Played with a southern swagger, the performance was almost savage in execution, like an alligator crawling out of a swamp to bite you in the butt. The members of the Silent Comedy threw their bodies into hard-driving motion along with the music. The Silent Comedy is an unknown band, but given more opportunities to play before live audiences, the band will not remain unknown for long.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Olms at the Gramercy Theatre

The Olms is a new Los Angeles-based team effort by former soloists Pete Yorn and J.D. King. If anyone can bring back mop tops and bell bottoms, it will be the Olms. It is 1966 again with the Olms. On the surface, the Olms’ vocal arrangements, melodies and instrumentation all sound like breezy pop radio from the era of the Turtles, the Kinks and the Monkees. Listen again to the group's newly-released debut self-titled album and, despite all the “baby” references, there is a darker side, with lyrics about murder suicides, co-dependency and apathy.

Al Kooper, who wrote “This Diamond Ring” for Gary Lewis and the Playboys in 1964, introduced the Olms at the Gramercy Theatre tonight. Performing live as a quintet, the Olms did three pre-hippie era covers, the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time”, the Troggs’ “Love Is All Around” and Barbara Mason’s “Yes, I’m Ready.” The rest of the catalog consisted of original songs that sounded uncannily like they were cut from the same groove. Note, the Olms did not sound like a 21st century band playing nostalgic music; the band sounded too authentic for that. Listening to the band sounded like a trip on the way-back machine. The one exception was “Wanna Feel It,” which featured a 1980s new wave drum beat that might get the group some contemporary radio play. The uniqueness of this retro sound will collect the Olms a rapid audience.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Bowery Electric

Monty Python’s Eric Idle created a fictional band name, Toad the Wet Sprocket, for the British sketch television series Rutland Weekend Television in 1975, expecting that no band would use such a silly name. In 1986, four California teens adopted the moniker as a joke for their first gig. From 1989-1998, Toad the Wet Sprocket’s lead singer Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning and drummer Randy Guss recorded five studio albums, which combined sold over four million copies and had five major radio hits. The band officially split in 1998, but reunited many times for short periods. The band has reunited again and will be releasing New Constellation, its first album of new songs in 16 years, on September 17.

All four original members of Toad the Wet Sprocket performed an all-too-brief acoustic concert today at the Bowery Electric, and were joined on mandolin on most songs by the tour manager, Jonathan Kingham. The band performed three reworked older songs, "Walk on the Ocean", "All I Want" and "Fall Down," plus two new songs, "California Wasted" and "New Constellation," for later broadcast on disc jockey Rich Russo’s radio show, anything, anything, on Westchester’s WXPK 107.1 FM. Dinning switched from bass to acoustic guitar for the occasion. While the band was at the forefront of alternative pop music in the 1990s, acoustically today the band did not sound alternative at all. It was a mini-showcase of clean, contemporary and melodic folk-style music, with Philips’ sturdy voice highlighted by mature harmonies from the other members. Russo (pictured to the left of the band, wearing a red sweatshirt) asked questions of the band members in between songs, affording the musicians the opportunity to share how only now did this reunion feel like a restart for the band. It remained unclear by the end of the taping whether the band will feature an acoustic set when it embarks on an extended concert tour to promote the album’s release.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dave Davies at the Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival

Fifty years ago, Dave Davies founded the Kinks, one of the few British Invasion groups that survived long past the invasion. While his older brother Ray Davies became the lead vocalist and primary songwriter of the Kinks, Dave occasionally took the lead on a few songs, including "Death of a Clown" (a solo single but which appeared on a Kinks album) and "Strangers." I Will Be Me, released today, is his sixth solo album.

This afternoon, Dave Davies opened City Winery’s fifth annual Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival, a free "After-Work Backyard Party" held outdoors in an asphalt lot behind the venue on Tuesday evenings during the summer. Davies’ charm was that he is or was a Kink, but by the end of his concert, one could not help but miss the Kinks. Davies sang a catalogue of songs from his solo albums and a few early Kinks songs, but he is a very poor singer, straining his voice on most songs. If a listener did not already love him for his legacy, there is a good chance that his vocals would make the listener cringe. Nevertheless, considering he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2004, it was a joy to see the 66-year-old rocker perform, especially the Kinks songs from the 1960s -- “Tired of Waiting”, “All Day and All of the Night” and “You Really Got Me.”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Ocean Blue at the Mercury Lounge

The members of the Ocean Blue first met in junior high school in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In 1986, they formed a pop band that combined melodic guitars and synthesizers. The Ocean Blue's members were just teenagers and still in high school when they signed a three-album deal in 1988. Since those early days, the band recorded six albums (Ultramarine, the band’s first album in 14 years, was released on March 19). Its current line-up includes original members David Schelzel on lead vocals/guitar and Bobby Mittan on bass guitar, and later additions Oed Ronne on keyboards/guitar/vocals and Peter Anderson on drums.

Returning to the Mercury Lounge (the band first played the room in 2000), the Ocean Blue was met by longtime friends and fans. The band's set included songs from the first albums as well as new songs. Although it was the same room, it was a new environment only because so much has changed in the music world. Ocean Blue’s jangly guitar-based sound, which recalled the Smiths, New Order, the Cocteau Twins, R.E.M. and Echo & the Bunnymen, sounded amazingly indie. Schelzel’s soft and fluttering vocal melodies evoked sentimentality and a romantic optimism. Ronne’s chimey guitar work shimmered gracefully to complement the vocal lines. With the right exposure, Ocean Blue might gain a whole new audience.