Oryx + Crake have arrived

Local and regional bands have been doing CD release shows since the beginning of time (or at least since the advent of CDs). It’s a rare occasion when people actually stand up and pay attention to them. Last night at the EARL was a rare occasion. In a sold-out show, local nine-piece collective Oryx + Crake set the bar a tad high for other local bands wanting to achieve such success.

The self-titled debut is breath of fresh air for Atlanta and any God-fearin’ American who has an iota of musical taste. Instruments heard were the cello, electric guitar, bass, violin, acoustic guitar, a Mac or two, keyboards, and other instruments too numerous to mention. But it doesn’t come out as a confused mish-mash of sound. Instead, fans were treated to some of the most beautiful and melodic music ever to grace the stage at the EARL.

If you’ve heard the CD by now (and you should have heard it by now), you’ll know that these are nine of the most talented musicians around. And live versions of the nine songs performed came out a bit edgier than those recorded. It was clear that the members of Oryx + Crake were pumped. Audience fervor is the only thing that overshadowed the band members enthusiam. It was a full house of an appreciative and supportive crowd.

Chief songwriting duo Ryan Peoples and wife Rebekah Goode-Peoples have crafted some intelligent and moving songs for the new CD. With a plethora of teachers in the group, the literary references cannot be missed (Oryx and Crake, the novel by Margaret Atwood; “Pretty How Towns,” the poem by e. e. cummings).

While O+C have a unique sound that really denies any comparisons to other groups, each song tells a different story with a different sound. Highlights included the wonderful opener “Fun Funeral,” the apparent ode to an abusive parent “Unbound,” “Bed Death,” “Open Your Eyes,” and “Pretty How Towns” (the true fan would say that each song was a highlight and receive no argument).

The logistics of a tour are hard to imagine with the nine otherwise-employed members (some with children), but it would be a beautiful sight. If only the folks in New York City could get a load of this group live, big things would happen. For now, though, Oryx + Crake seem content to get the message out that excellent music is alive and well in Atlanta.

Show opener Book of Colors warmed up the crowd nicely with violin, viola, acoustic guitar, drums, stand up bass, and on one terrific song, a clarinet. This was to be the first of three nicely presented acts with an orchestral / strings theme. The Atlanta-based five-piece announced that their new disc is in the works. This was an entertaining set.

On deck was Athens band Venice is Sinking, who just released Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions, May 20th-24th 2008. Several songs from this wonderful disc were played for an eager crowd, obviously containing its own contingent of ViS fans. This six-piece was in the groove from the start of their set. Playing in the style of what some have called southern dream-pop, the band sounded excellent with Daniel Lawson and Karolyn Troupe giving some amazing harmonies alongside guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, viola, and synthesizer. With their excellent sound and abrubt song endings, Venice is Sinking is as tight as they come.

O+C Set List:

Fun Funeral
Unbound
I Could Be Anyone Anymore
Open Your Eyes
Pretty How Towns
Superlady
Bed Death
Deep Sea Diver
Lullaby No. 1

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