14 February 2011

Arbouretum / Secret Mountains @ Ottobar 02/13/11

On a night when a pneumatic music industry celebrated itself, to the sole delight of the disengaged pre-adolescent genus, it was with more than just a bit of irony that I found myself as the aggressively self-assured Arbouretum decided to eschew the Grammys and celebrate the release of their new record, "The Gathering," by dominating the stage at the Ottobar.  For here is a band that matters; a band that makes you care.

With a foundation of David Heumann, Corey Allender, and Buck Carey, the group lays the classic power-trio bedrock, constructing heavy dark space jams with strong manic 60s psychedelia undertones.  They depart, however, from those ancestral giants, with the inclusion of Matthew Pierce on keys and percussion, who provides a swirling apocalyptic undercurrent to the proceedings.

Be not deceived by the darkness and the gloom, Arbouretum doesn't forsake you wallowing in misery -- at a precise moment they unveil pulsing positivity, and the virtuosity of lead guitarist David Heumann jettisons the hirsute foursome to moments of genuine catharsis.  It is quite appropriate, then, that "doom/ecstatic" is listed next to genre on their facebook page.

Here is a low-fi clip from the show:

Preceeding Arbouretum, Secret Mountains took the stage with a simple greeting, "Hi. We're a band."  Said with David Byrne-like unironic innocence, the six-member band unfurled exquisitely formed dream-pop that has become a unique feature of Baltimore's music scene.  Chanteuse Kelly Laughlin shows her amazing range in the band's most affecting tune, "Rejoice."

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