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.