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A Brief Introduction to Some of The Best Local Bands Youíve Probably Never Heard Before
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
Never in my wildest dreams could I ever have imagined that there might be too many great bands in town. With just a few acts seeming to get most of the attention around here, one might be tempted to think that there really isnít much to be found beyond the usual suspects. The fact is, however, that there is quite a lot of talent hiding out in Fort Wayne, and I thought Iíd use this weekís column to talk to you about a few local acts that you may or may not be familiar with.
First up is the bluesy Key of Skeleton. Comprised mostly of former members of Tito Discovery, these guys are a downright fantastic band. If you take the best parts of Clutch, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Tom Waits, a little Sonic Youth, and run it all through a Big Muff pedal, youíll have a bit of an idea of what makes up K.o.S.ís sound. Itís the kind of blues-based rock that seems to fall right in the middle of both genres, while keeping itself from being labeled solely as one or the other. Aside from the quality of their music, another reason to check these guys out is simply their stage presence. Thereís enough swagger up there for two Butch Cassidys and half a Sundance (and they also have some of the coolest vintage gear Iíve seen). Visit them online at myspace.com/keyofskeleton.
Next we have Kids In Europe. Another one of those genre-bending bands, the Kids could probably best be described as post-punk. Donít let that fool you into thinking that they are some kind of Blink 182-type band. These guys are much more diverse-sounding than that. Sometimes their music reminds me a lot of Naked Raygun, other times they kind of sound like Opiate-era Tool, and still other times they seem to blend Planes Mistaken for Stars with ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. One aspect that remains consistent with them no matter what (and is one of the main reasons I like them) is the relentless energy that emanates from their songs. Whether they make me want to pogo all night or flail around like an idiot, the point is that they make me want to keep moving the whole time they are playing. More info. on Kids In Europe can be found at myspace.com/kidsineurope.
If you like your rock served on a Gibson 335, then The Swinginí Angels are the band for you. These guys are one of the most classic sounding bands in town, and seem to float effortlessly between rockabilly, gospel, country, old-style rhythm and blues, and western swing, with just enough of that Bo Diddly ďbum, ba-dum ba-dum, bum bumĒ to keep your tail shaking all night. Their sound is one that can also transcend generational differences, and is equally appealing to the both the young and old among us. They also have an excellent album out, entitled Faster Than Angels Can Fly, which you can pick up for a very reasonable price either at one of their shows or from any Wooden Nickel here in town. Check them out at myspace.com/swinginangels.
And now onto a band who has been around for quite a while now, but keeps its profile low by not playing out all that much. Iím talking about Streetlamps for Spotlights. Some of you may know of them through frontman Jason Davisí Off the Cuff recording studio, where he keeps it all analog, all the time. Streetlamps has been one of my favorite local bands for a long time, and they are reminiscent of some of the best of 80ís and 90ís underground rock. If you grew up listening to the Pixies, Swervedriver, or the Minutemen, this is the local band for you. Another great thing about these guys is that they try and bring in a new out-of-town band nearly every time they play, which never hurts in regards to showing non-locals what the scene here has to offer. They even put out 45ís, to boot. How cool is that? See more at www.streetlampsforspotlights.com.
Which brings me to the final band I would like you to know about, The New Pale Swimmers. Often interchangeable with frontman Mark Hutchinsí other band, Vandolah, NPS offers the kind of mature, crafted indie rock that made legends out of bands like Guided By Voices and The Replacements. Honestly, these guys are so good it almost makes me mad sometimes. However, the fact that they play shows even more rarely than Streetlamps for Spotlights is a good reason why you may not have ever heard them. Itís this kind of guitar-driven, songwriter rock that reminds me why I love listening to and making music, and I really canít stress enough how much NPSís music just makes me happy when I hear it. You can take my word for it, or hear them yourself at myspace.com/thenewpaleswimmers.
So anyway, thatís my pitch for some of our mostly-unsung local heroes, and these are just the guys who immediately came to mind for me. This really is a great town for music, and I hope that anyone who says otherwise will realize that, if they take the time to look around for a minute, theyíll see that just as clearly as I do.