Gordon Withers - We begin tonight in the backstage with a cellist who plays in the excellent local band, Office of Future Plans. He plays instrumental music and uses loops and some backing tracks. There is a nice sharp sound that sticks into me which does not surprise me too much as a cello makes a better rock instrument than some people may think (from ELO to Rasputina... see Tomrerclaus for my favorite cello music). Withers plays quite well and does original songs along with Mission of Burma's "Forget". His main focus is playing several songs from his recent CD which showcase the music of the Joy Formidable. His interpretations are excellent and a smart choice as those songs have the quality to work in a variety of formats. This was a fun little set that went over quite well with the good sized crowd that more than half packed the room.
Garland of Hours - I promised myself I would explore this band further after I last saw them previously and tonight's CD release event seemed like a great opportunity. They have added a bass player to the drums/guitar/voice-cello-keyboards lineup since the previous show. That bottom end helped the sound along nicely and this additional viewing resulted in me becoming a fan of the band. The playing is pretty simple in the background with a nice psyche edge creeping out of the steady rhythms. The cello runs are flowing and push melodies and counterpoints into higher ground. The female vocals are a bit light Sandy Denny in tone and lull one into a warm pool of REM sleep dreaming. However, the edgy music keeps one alert to the tunes. I am reminded a bit of Faun Fables and Windy & Carl and other intriguing modern psyche-folk bands that don't quite fit the folk element too much. This is a strong little band we have here that could hold their own with a Joanna Newsome crowd and a whole lot of thoughtful music fans.
Quote of the Night: From Garland of Hours... "We're not supposed to have that much fun."