Saturday, October 25, 2008

Urban Barnyard, 10-21-2008

As far as I'm concerned Urban Barnyard is pure rock goodness. They are one of the few groups on the scene that seems to be a true collaboration among all the members, rather than musicians supporting the songs of one artist. I've enjoyed the work of all the Urban Barnyard members individually, but the way they fit together as a group brings out a sound that to me seems more than the sum of its parts. I had a great time at their show Tuesday. It was what I would call a classic Urban Barnyard set, with most of the songs I really love, including Gay Penguins, Virile Cricket's a Sex Machine, About Wolves, etc. There's so much going on in their songs that it's a bit hard to break it down without seeming overly analytical. First off, they just play great rock and roll. A lot of the songs are based in specific early rock styles, but it's fun to see them twist those sounds around the concept of the group and their own songwriting ideas. In particular Virile Cricket is a great spin-off from James Brown's style (Phoebe does an inspired job with the vocals on that song.) Each of the members, though, is great at what they do...Dibs played a couple of really interesting, unusual guitar solos the other night and provides solid guitar work on all their songs, Casey's bass playing is perfect...he knows exactly when to be melodic or just rhythmic and he captures the style of rock playing that is perfect for each song. Daoud is a really good drummer and is an amazing singer, and of course Phoebe has this powerful rock and roll voice (which is suprisingly different from how she performs her own material). But the best of what they do seems to come out from the interacting and overlapping among the members. They have a great sense of vocal arranging and I love how they sometimes trade off lead vocals in the middle of a song and also how sometimes what you might consider the background vocals come forward and become the predominant part of the song. They did some nice harmonies the other night on Hot Dog, and there's this dramatic part in Seeing Eye Dog with a kind of this beautiful wailing going on that I seem to remember is mainly led by Daoud. Plus, the way they trade off instruments all the time confuses the normal idea of who holds what role in the band, making it more of a collective. And they're still rough around the edges enough that they don't seem overly slick. Ok, so I guess you get the point that I really like Urban Barnyard.

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