Saturday, June 19, 2010

Performance Review: Ocelots of Rock

Tonight the fam went out for the CD release of Ocelot’s latest e.p., Satan’s Darts, at an in-store performance at Grimey’s (who are pretending to be the new Lucy’s…just kidding). As always, the boys did not fail to impress.

Not to brag, but I’ve known these guys for years (we all went to college together back in the…er, day), and have played with them off and on in various and sundry projects, as well as sharing the stage with them in unrelated acts. Chatting with Paul the other day, he said they lined it all up and have been together about nine years now, playing their first show at a coffee shop in Bowling Green, KY down from the WKU campus. It was an intimate affair, but one of the best nights of rock to be had within hundreds of miles. That tradition continues.

What’s great about Ocelots is that their “Pavement meets Minutemen” approach to pop has really outgrown said moniker and they’ve developed a style and a sound that, while naturally nodding to their inherent influences, has become a style and a sound all its own, with new ideas and directions logically building off previous incarnations. I’ve said this to all the boys repeatedly on various occasions, but they simply get better with each new set of songs and subsequent release, and this batch of five is plain proof in the pudding.

The shame of Ocelots is really the shame of Nashville and the indie world in general. These boys have worked hard to get their music out there, playing shows at times and places with little to no attention from the local scenesters, which is fine on the road, but a scandal in your home town. To be fair, the bands they play with and certain folks within the press, etc certainly give them their due, but the “kids” in the crowd more often than not have turned a deaf and indifferent ear. On more occasions than not I’ve seen them clear a somewhat filled room within the first thirty seconds of a song with the pure and undeniable power of their rock. It’s further proof that people in general are idiots and that the scene is more of a social medium than a musical one, where everyone comes to see and be seen and not to enjoy a night of good music. But that’s a rant for another time.

Having said that, it does seem that Ocelots’ time spent is finally starting to pay off. This evening’s show was well attended, and not just by friends and family, but faces that I did not recognize and folks that none of the guys seemed to know - all attentive, all enjoying a spirited set that reached way back to their earliest release, The Truth About Ocelots from 2002, and it was especially nice to see One Eyed King and The Truth About Baker Hill (along with the song's explanation, an admitted rarity, which I had forgotten) get a nice kicking around. Even a technical issue or two did nothing to hamper the momentum, ‘cos as Greg mentioned, it wouldn’t be an Ocelots show without a few problems thrown in. At the end of the set I was inspired to reignite the rock myself, while simultaneously shaking my head and wondering yet again why they didn’t make a bigger splash years ago. Such is the loss of the musical world.

As for the e.p., Satan’s Darts is a close cousin to their last album, The Cellar & the Ghost Have Let Us Down, which was their first release to really and truly and fully capture what these boys are capable and willing to provide. What you get is well-written and well-executed indie rock the way they used to deliver it back in the 90s, only with an ears-open-to-today twist that keeps everything relevant. Lyrically poignant and personal, these narratives may not be stories you know, but are ones you can certainly relate to, and Greg’s up close and personal delivery demands attention to the details. Musically it’s a well-fitted pastiche of running bass lines, chunky guitar work (sometimes acting as a second low end or even a percussive devise) and calculated drumming that builds upon and accents the development of each song to their fullest potential. Simply put, this is honest music, both uniquely familiar and universally accessible to anyone with their head turned away from the carbon copy drivel that the mainstream has to offer (and quite frankly 90% of the indie rock output as well).

If you’re a local, I want you to go down to Grimey’s and pick up a copy of Satan’s Darts. You have five fun colors to choose from. If you’re not, then I want you to go to iTunes or Amazon (maybe both) and download it. But since it is all about the music, and if you’re on a budget, you can check out the music (plus a lot more) and download it for free here on their site. And if they ever come to your town, go out and tell ‘em Wil sent ya. You won’t get anything special for it, but it will make my ego feel awesome.

Also, I noticed M-Sullivan-X was videoing the show, so maybe I can link that up at some point in the near to distant future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The videos are here: