Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

May 16th: Piano's - New York City, NY - Cotton Jones Basket Ride

Images and Review by Dominick Mastrangelo

Bands go on hiatus all the time. Members have side projects, other sounds and interests they want to explore. Sometimes what was once working no longer is, sometimes they outgrow their sound; they mature. I don't need to list off examples because they are everywhere. Sometimes the band gets back together and sometimes they don't. The biggest fear, as a fan of the shelved project, is what will the new project sound like? And it always eases the transition when the new stuff is just as good or better than what came before. So it goes for Michael Nau and his new band the Cotton Jones Basket Ride. Nau indefinitely shelved his more famous band, Page France, and has been focusing on his new band for about a year.

Gone is the wide-eyed, dreamy folk/pop and in are darker, dustier sounds. Nau's voice is lower and less plaintive since we last heard him. And the songs, well, they are good - real good. And tucked into the small performance space in the back of Piano's in the Lower East Side on Friday, among a list of six completely different sounding bands (and no real headliner), Nau and Co. got to work well after midnight spreading the good word of the CJBR. Because the other part of starting over is that not only are you cultivating a new sound and direction but a new fan base as well.

Those who were there to see the band or had drifted in from the loud music and even louder chatter of the bar out front were treated to something special. Songs off the new Archery EP were well represented; "Chewing Gum" and "Midnight Monday and a Telescope" (mp3) were moody, bluesy numbers that crept along Doors-esque keyboards supplied by Whitney McGraw (also a member of Page France) and shuffling drums with a hypnotic guitar melody. Nau also tacked on a bit of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" onto one song eliciting a smattering of applause among those who picked up on it.

"Gone The Bells," the one song that momentarily shed the film noir canvas the band was creating, also happened to be the best. Bouncing along an airy organ and bass line the song swayed as well as any ballad you would hear off of say, Wilco's Summerteeth. (And there was swaying.) The lovely vocal duet between Nau and McGraw as they sang "I was looking for your heart, through the flowers in the park" was moving in a way that doesn't fully come across when you listen to the song on their MySpace page a couple dozen times.

With EPs and a full length ahead there is plenty to be excited about and to look forward to from Cotton Jones. The least of which is the knowledge that with most of these releases, there will most likely be some touring to support. Best get on the ride now while there's still room.

Tues May 20 - Norfolk, VA - The Boot
Wed May 21 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
Thurs May 22 - Charlotte, NC - The Milestone
Fri May 23 - Charleston, SC - The Village Tavern
Sat May 24 - Athens, GA - Caledonia Lounge
Mon May 26 - Lexington, KY - The Dame
Tues May 27 - Nashville, TN - The End
Wed May 28 - Cincinnati, OH - Southgate House
Fri May 30 - Charlottesville, VA - Tea Bazaar
Sat May 31 - Fredericksburg, VA - The 3rd Floord
Wed Jun 11 - Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place
Thur Jun 12 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern
Fri Jun 13 - Bloomington, IN - Bear's Place
Sat Jun 14 - Champaign, IL - Mike N Molly's
Sun Jun 15 - St. Louis, MO - Bluebird
Mon Jun 16 - Lawrence, KS - The Replay Lounge
Tue Jun 17 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
Wed Jun 18 - Fargo, ND - The Aquarium
Thur Jun 19 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry
Fri Jun 20 - Iowa City, IA - The Picador
Sat Jun 21 - Dekalb, IL - The House Cafe w/ Venna
Sun Jun 22 - Madison, WI - Cafe Montmartre
Mon Jun 23 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's w/ Brendan Losch
Tue Jun 24 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
Wed Jun 25 - Detroit, MI - Alvin's
Thur Jun 26 - Toronto, ONT - Silver Dollar
Fri Jun 27 - London, ONT - London Music Club
Sat Jun 28 - Pittsburgh, PA - Brillobox

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