Monday, December 21, 2009

Romantica @ The Cedar

Romantica held their EP-release party last night at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. Their newest release, entitled Control Alt Country Delete, is a alternative-country set, emphasis on Country. When they jumped on stage, cowboy hats were donned and the pedal steel was quickly manned. The Cedar was packed, and by the time I got there, there was only standing room in the way back. Being a Minneapolis-based band, I wasn’t that surprised to see the crowd abuzz, but what did shock me was the range of demographics present. Young 20-somethings sat alongside 50-60-70-somethings, hipsters chatted with cowboys, babies were brought as club-type girls eyed on with vodka tonics in hand. This whole collection of diversity had gathered for one thing: Romantica.

Lead singer Ben Kyle’s voice is often compared to that of Ryan Adams and Jeff Tweedy, but when it’s just him and his guitar, I can’t help but to think of Bebo Norman singing “Sons and Daughters.” Kyle’s strength lies in his upper register, which captivates like a siren’s song, but he often breaks off with an “oh!” before the listener can reach their own auditory climax.If Kyle can allow his vocals to let go just a little bit more in upcoming albums, the payoff could be startling. It is also worth noting that Kyle absolutely shines when paired with band mate Luke Jacobs for duets; their blending is beyond enrapturing.

The concert featured most, if not all, of the songs off the new EP, which gave way to a very twangy night full of the heavily featured steel pedal.More accustomed to Romantica’s Folk-Alt sound, I was a little put-off by their extremely Country venture that evening, but many around me were pardnerin’ it up and dancing, so I suppose all was well. Romantica apparently began making their sound more Country for a joke, but when they actually starting trying it out, it became more of a serious affair. Control Alt Country Delete was recorded in one day in Austin, and many slip-ups and mistakes can be heard on the album.

All in all, Romantica’s sound was a bit too country for my taste, but they clearly have a loving and devoted following, so if you don’t mind yourself some country, give these guys a listen.

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