This Radio Boise Tuesday had pretty much everything I could want. It had a Treefort act I'd missed (Nick Jaina), it had a band I'd never seen before (Manzanita Falls) and it had a local act I'd recently become smitten with (Starlings Murmurations). It didn't take me long, then, to mark this show down on the calendar.
Not many others did. I counted about fifteen people when I got down to Neurolux. The crowd would peak at around thirty over the course of the night. So it goes.
Starlings Murmurations opened the show. Although I wished that she could've played more songs (especially the one about John Keats), I liked Kristy Scott's set here as much as her set at the Crux if not more. The extra breathing room that Neurolux afforded her bright, chugging guitar helped, as did the extra little oomph that she put into her singing. As becoming as I found her increased forcefulness, however, what struck me most was the Robert Bresson-like restraint of Scott's music. Her lyrics convey enormous feeling by trying to hold feelings at bay ("Well, they say you've lost your mind./ I guess I'm pretty sure they're right this time."). Her melodies have a certain spare beauty; they're like the trees you see around town when the leaves are just starting to bud. Her clear, high vocals show such careful poise that every ache and flutter resonates more than most other singers' flights up and down the scales.
It's amazing: I've only seen her twice, and Starlings Murmurations is already one of my favorite acts in town.
Manzanita Falls played next. This Santa Rosa band cites Wilco and the National as influences on their Facebook page, and you could definitely hear traces of those groups in their yearning, folk-ish tunes, lithely steady drumbeats, rumbling bass and chiming, twangy guitar. However, they had a bite all their own thanks to Jeremy Mccarten's gently tough-minded vocals and no-bullsh*t lyrics ("Talk is cheap and you're wasting my time./ You're a one-trick pony with a one-track mind."). Most welcome as well were Stuart Markham's stinging solos.
Portland musician Nick Jaina closed out the night. The sweetness of his tunes, the tenderness of his breathy croon and the spikiness of his lyrics ("I've been losing sleep over goddamn expense reports...") balanced each other out quite nicely: while the former two helped the latter go down, the latter helped keep the former two from turning insipid. Both ends met the middle in Jaina's sharp, fluid guitar work. Throughout, Jaina received sensitive support from Thomas Paul's bass and Louis McFarland's drums. Indeed, the rapport between the three musicians was so strong that I'd have thought that they'd played together for years if I didn't know better (and actually, I don't know better). The modest crowd gave this set some well-deserved applause.
You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online. Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise. If you like what you've read and would like to help keep it going, click the yellow "Give" button and donate whatever you can. Even $5 can go a long way.