Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Range Life, Edward Romeo and Alameda @ Tom Grainey's, 3/13/12

Tom Grainey's

Geez--two really good shows in three days and the Treefort Music Fest coming up next week.  How much music can my poor ears take?

Tuesday night's show at Tom Grainey's began with a set by the solid local band Range Life.  I couldn't tell you whether or not this five-piece band (male singer/lead guitar, female singer, rhythm guitar, bass, drums) took its name from the Pavement song.  It wouldn't surprise me if they did: they do sound a little bit like Pavement.  Much more than Pavement, though, Range Life reminds me of bands like the Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Sonic Youth.  There's the flat, straight-forward rhythm section.  There are the unprojected, artfully amateurish vocals and harmonies.  There are the jangly, hypnotic guitars that occasionally cut loose into perfectly spare, harsh, melodic solos.  There are the sudden tempo shifts that keep the audience on its toes.  And most importantly, there's the bedrock of simple, catchy tunes.

Next up was Edward Romeo, a Boise musician who has clearly been listening to his early 60's Dylan.  His nimble guitar picking and strumming would impress Woody Guthrie or Skip James, his lyrics are decent and he's got a good set of pipes.  I just hope that he'll ditch the crinkled, nasally, old-timey shtick that mars his singing.  He means it to be funny, but to my ears, it comes off as condescending both to his audience and to the traditions he's drawing from.

Closing out the night was a guitar-and-cello duo from Portland, OR called Alameda.  Lead singer Sterling Myles said that they're typically a five-piece group, but from what I saw and heard, two members were all they needed.  Myles's breathy vocals and soothing melodies called to mind Nick Drake, but his urgent, intricate, rhythmic guitar playing safeguarded against anyone falling asleep.  Jessie Dettwiler's cello soared, swooped and skipped over the beat set down by Myles, and her wordless backup vocals eased the songs along.  It was really a shame that more people didn't stick around to hear this group.

You can look up all of these folks and hear samples of their music on Facebook.  Alameda also has a couple of websites: and

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