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|The Five-Man One-Man Band: Throw Me the Statue, March 27 at the Redstone Room|
|Music - Feature Stories|
|Wednesday, 26 March 2008 02:21|
Throw Me the Statue's debut album, Moonbeams, was largely built by one man, and you can hear it in the synthesized beats, the emphasis on front-loaded keyboards, the occasionally oddball instrumentation, the aggressive processing, and a complete disregard for the concept of "enough."
Unbound from the stricture of what three or four or five people can do on a stage, the one-man band often sounds excessive and self-indulgent - qualities that aren't necessarily bad, but they're not conducive to live re-creation.
Scott Reitherman, in the wake of a failed band, put Moonbeams together over six months, and the Secretly Canadian label released it in February. "I had just been in a band that disintegrated sort of frustratingly for me, so I tried to redirect my energies toward actually finishing a record, and I thought the way to do that was to rely only on myself," Reitherman said last week.
Meticulous, detailed, and scattershot, the recording recalls the feyness of Andrew Bird and the lo-fi rock sensibility (and voice) of Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard - without much blending of the two. The delicate "Conquering Kids" would fit on a Bird record, while the amped-up "This Is How We Kiss" could come from the GBV catalog.
But the Throw Me the Statue that will visit the Redstone Room on Thursday - in a show presented by Daytrotter.com - is a full-fledged five-piece.
The result is naturally a more conventional form of rock and roll, said Reiterman, who's based in the Pacific Northwest. And I'm guessing that given more-straightforward settings, the core strength of the songs will emerge more clearly.
The album certainly has its transcendent moments. The nearly conventional power-pop song "Take It Or Leave It" soars with its wordless falsetto; there aren't fewer layers, but they're coherent.
And in its less-adorned moments - such as the title track - Moonbeams fulfills its potential rather than simply presenting it.
That song, Reitherman said, started out in the folk vein of Bonnie Prince Billy, but the addition of horns changed its character. "It really took on a new sort of vibe," he said. "I was listening to probably an unhealthy amount of Dusty Springfield at that time, and it sort of fell right in line with that aesthetic."
Reitherman said that he knew he'd need cohorts to perform the songs live, but "coming out of an unsuccessful band, that's always a big mountain to climb in your head."
He assembled a group of friends - including one from high school who'd come to Seattle to get a Ph.D. "In every case, it was a very direct connection," the 26-year-old said. "Everybody is talented and a songwriter in their own right, and most all of them have their own songwriting projects and/or have made records."
This was before Secretly Canadian came calling, and before the first national tour, and before the press, and before the South by Southwest performances earlier this month.
Now Reitherman is hoping to keep the band together - for the next album, which he expects to record over the summer. "They kind of signed on unknowingly for something that began to roll a little bit more," he said. "You just want to make sure, especially because they're your friends, everybody's still in a good place with that kind of commitment, and that they're not starting to get pissed that they're playing songs that they didn't write the parts for."
Ironically, Reitherman said, the band has gotten its best sense of the group-composition process through covers: "They give us a chance to see what the process of creating a new song together will be like.
"I think the next record is going to be pretty much a group effort," he added. "I'm easing away from writing every instrument's part."
All five band members - and one other friend - now share a rented nine-bedroom house in Seattle, and that's quite a leap for a guy who was frustrated by musical partnerships in the past.
"It certainly has the possibility of turning into a bad reality show," he said. But "we can have our space a little bit and keep our sanity."
Throw Me the Statue will play on Thursday, March 27, at the Redstone Room in downtown Davenport. Brooks Strause will also perform. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $5.
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