It's true, there's no jazz scene to speak of in this city. But a local act at last week's edition of Phat-n-Jazzy at the Social made a good case for renewing efforts to get one going. Instead of her musical (and literal) family, the Sol.illaquists of Sound, the suede-voiced Alexandrah fronted a full jazz band that packed considerable improvisational chops. According to her, apart from the key of some of the songs, the entire groove was extemporaneous. Though the chanteuse has performed with them quite a few times in the past couple of years, the outfit rounded out by Derrick Harvin (keys), John Lennard (sax, flute), Lavon Rushing (bass) and Carl Hamilton (drums) remains purposefully unnamed. That's because, as she makes very clear, it's not a side project for her but rather an occasional artistic gathering that's to remain open. Not to be a Yoko or anything, since I wholly appreciate her dynamic presence in the Sol.illaquists' equation, but this was a context in which she truly shone, her agile voice mirroring their instrumental fluidity. It was an unmistakably natural fit.
Guitars and Feedback
Apart from that, however, last week was all about the guitars. The Peacock Room was the scene for an actual Guitar-Off between four local gunslingers. Right now, you're probably thinking pyro-blowing, rock-out-with-yer-cock-out shredfest. But when you put guys like Darin Hughes (Happy Valley), Carlos DeSoto (The Rules, Los Diggaz), Max (Pooball) and Danny Feedback in a room together, you can't expect anything so straightforward. Instead, it was in a much more experimental orbit with avant and jazz stylings, as well as full-on noise. In other words, a very anti-rock guitar challenge.
Speaking of guitar spectacles, the ax-man from DeLand's No Circus is a total stud. Had he shown up to the guitar-off instead of their recent show at the Social, shit woulda been game over. Though slavish to classic rock, the band itself was totally aces, especially considering that none of 'em is old enough to buy a pack of smokes. But it was singer/guitarist James Killgallon who sparked like a supernova; it's always charming to see a kid whose heart outruns his still-nascent posturing. The rest of his body may still be working things out, but his hands? Hooo boy! On a guitar, those fingers exist on a stratum most mortals will never reach. With no pick and a jaw-dropping mastery of guitar dynamics, this wunderkind is the real deal. For having to reach for the rock virility of Robert Plant through a set of braces, his singing wasn't bad either. This airtight band already has staggering natural talent; they just need a broader record collection.
Sharing the bill was local band The Dyin' Days. Vocal issues are just the beginning of their problems. The bigger dilemma is that there are actually two bands crowding this womb: a potentially awesome psych-rock band and a not-so-good mod band. They either need to figure out which one they wanna be or how to merge them better. Though much of what sparse virtue they had came via the noisy texturizing of the aforementioned Danny Feedback, it did illuminate the double-edged sword of having him in their ranks. Despite, or perhaps because of, his occasional brilliance, he's an inevitable show-stealer whose presence tends to eclipse. The only band he's ever successfully integrated into — other than his own eponymous one — was Franchise, but that's because their concept was both bigger than and more complementary to his persona. Whether he proves to be the Dyin' Days' death knell or saving grace will depend on them.
With a hard-rock sound that's turbo-charged and sexy as shit, headliner Earl Greyhound, from NYC, is an act that puts the power back in "power trio." All sinewy muscle and lusty swagger, they were the model of lean and mean. Apart from the impressive licks of singer/guitarist Matt Whyte, much of their sonic girth was provided by big Ricc Sheridan and his even bigger set of drums, which boasted a kick drum that could make a spare tire for Gravedigger. They've got the image, the sound and quite possibly the next big thing written all over them.
Despite impelling even preppy frat boys to dance and clap their hands in the form of high-fives, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah underwhelmed with a flat set at Club Firestone. Opener Elvis Perkins in Dearland, however, picked up the slack with a crystalline performance. Considering the baggage frontman Perkins is carrying (his mother died in one of the planes that downed the World Trade Center and his famous father Anthony died from AIDS-related pneumonia), you'd think his stuff would either be glum or angry as all hell. But live, he and his diversely talented bandmates showed an orchestral yet rustic complexion with an array of timeworn instruments, colorfully rendering the intimate world of gentle beauty he's created for his email@example.com
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