Young Buffalo - This is a duo from Oxford, Mississippi, making them the second band I have seen from that city (and probably the state as well). They interchange between bass and guitar with whoever playing the guitar taking the lead vocals and the other providing harmony. They tour with a drummer and keyboardist which fills out the full rock sound. It is a good thing these two guys found each other as what could be a rather ordinary band is lifted considerably by the great harmonies their different voices come up with. They would still be successful power poppers spitting out bright, happy, sunny melodies, but the voices lift everything up out of the muck for listeners like me (I am the Joy Division to your Beach Boys). They had just enough pace and occasional ferocity in the power part of their pop to make this an interesting set beyond the great vocal work. And oh yes, there were the requisite hooks. Good stuff.
Hey Marseilles - This Seattle band is releasing only their second album of new material in five years, but are not sparing in the expense department to present it to the world. They are touring seven members strong and are in week four of their tour with three more to go. There were no signs of jet lag (or van lag I suppose) tonight as they presented some fresh high quality music balanced between pop, rock, and Americana. Basically if you like the Decemberists, you will likely enjoy a Hey Marseilles set. The vocals are very much like those of Colin Meloy and the arrangements are every bit as full, thought out, and interesting. There is a cellist, violinist, and trumpeter/clarinetist who provide the unique sounds that take this music to exciting places. There are drums and three more players who rotate guitars, basses, keyboards, and percussion. Even with all the instrumentation, the band arranges things so there is plenty of variance of space between thicker passages and airier moments. I wish there was a bit more variety in the vocals which were a bit too steady for over an hour's worth of material. But the music was always vibrant and the Klezmatics-like closing number was a real kick. It was crowded night at the Iota, who are drawing some significant crowds pretty much every time I am out there which means they are booking quite well-both with touring and local bands. The atmosphere was great tonight and this band must have had a great time and fully earned the response.
Quote of the Night: From Hey Marseilles... "Thank-you for treating Tuesday like Friday."