Thursday, October 05, 2006

Feels so right

What a difference a glowing review makes. The pen is mightier than the sword, sure, but a well-placed review in a fairly reputable grassroots music magazine? It has the power to trump them both. But enough with the pontificating. It matters little that the name of the magazine is gone from memory or what was even written exactly, but the impression never left, and that is this: Oakley Hall is a serious force to be reckoned with. Whether or not you know it yet isn’t your fault – the band still seems to exist as six barely-knowns from New York attempting that whole Southern country thing – but, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll seek them out and school yourselves properly.

It doesn’t matter that only 20 of the curious showed to witness what the band had to say for itself in Salt Lake City. On the way there, someone even mistakenly put them in the “folkie” vein, but that’ll be excused as well. Water under the bridge. But from that first tune of “Confidence Man” (also the lead track on their Gypsum Strings), everybody there appeared to discover collectively that what they were hearing was a band on its way. It felt like we’d known the songs for years already. And yet, it was like this delicious secret all the same, the six of them blending thick fiddle-and-tambourine-and-organ infused twang-rock with twin female-and-male vocals. It felt honestly nice and reassuring for lack of a loftier description. It was like early My Morning Jacket, when Jim James opted to be nicer to those listening, strumming more than headbanging, only without any reverb to speak of. Oakley Hall leans on the kind of singing that feels old, but not ragged – perhaps the raggedness can eke in later, but this is plenty alright for now. It’s amazing in the way an old couch can swallow you up in exactly the right kind of way.

It was a long drive for the band to get to what they figured would land them in a strip mall (to be fair, the oddly-named Kilby Court can prove a little deceiving), but they seemed honestly grateful to be playing in the small converted garage. In a too-short set (or was it just about perfect with its lack of an encore?) that was dedicated to somebody’s uncle (who may or may not have been hanging out in the back with little more than a smile to call company), it was actually a little familial. It rolled more than rocked. Also, the more Rachel Cox sang – doing as fine on her own as she did with Pat Sullivan – the sweeter the evening turned. The whole night went in such a way that you didn’t much question whether or not you would buy an album at the end as much as whether or not you had time to hit an ATM if you didn’t.

If the critics praise, will the people follow? Will they scamper out and scoop up some Oakley Hall tunes and hear for themselves? Either way, my hope is real. After all, these guys are made up of the ingredients great bands are made of.

UPDATE! Fixed the second link. Both songs should play perfectly now.

Confidence Man
House Carpenter

Oh, and as long as we're on the subject of music, I wrote this article that came out in the City Weekly today. If you dig on the Architecture in Helsinki, read on. They'll be in town Sunday night. And thanks for the informational tidbits, Zina! Gotta love the musically obsessive.


ZLB said...

Nice work mr. moody. Glad to have been of any small assistance in such a worthy cause. Shall we prepare for another exchange?

Dainon said...

Always. Do we have a theme this time or are we left to our own quirky devices? You make the call.

kyality said...

Just so you know, "Confidence Man" is also the name of a LOST episode from Season 1. Just thought I'd flex my pop culture muscles for ya.

plainoldsarah said...

great action photo to boot!