Posted October 29, 2013 by Osa Hale in Show Reviews

Melville, Oh Darling, Spirit Lake // 10-24-13 // Mississippi Studios


One of the most important events in the life of a band is the debut of its first album. After gathering a following in Portland, getting songs on the radio and playing to crowds both as headliners and openers for international acts, Melville has reached that goal. On Oct. 24, Melville celebrated the release of its six-song debut EP, Maquette, at Mississippi Studios, joined by two other Portland-based rock bands, Spirit Lake and Oh Darling.

Spirit Lake entered with a bang, as singer Travis Ferguson announced that they were about to play some rock n’ roll and the band immediately erupted into a perfect storm of blues-tinged rock instrumentals with soulful yet sassy vocals.

Spirit Lake’s sound is all over the map, with touches of psychedelia at times, and a twinge of country at others. Even during slower songs, the band packs a punch with full-bodied instrumentals and unapologetic crooning. The set finished with a song announced as “Crown (head like a),” a tune with swaggering vocals and a strong head-bopping, toe-tapping tempo.

After Spirit Lake had gotten the crowd warmed up and even dancing a bit, Oh Darling was up and ready to keep the party going. The happy pep-rock vibe was impossible to miss; lead singer Jasmine Ash was bubbly and engaged with the

audience, and led the band with her keyboard, tambourine, and airy yet powerful soprano vocals.

A song from about midway through the set, “Wake Up, Shake Up” seemed to perfectly encompass the band’s flavor: sweet and strong, with plenty of “oohs” and high-pitched choruses as well as full-bodied rock instrumentals. Anyone left standing after Spirit Lake was dancing by the time Oh Darling was done.

Melville took the stage around 11 p.m., and did not disappoint. It was their party, and they played what they wanted to. Tracks off of the honored album were played, as well as new songs; the band even played a cover of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.”

Throughout the show, Melville delivered the sound that it has become known for: ardently melodic refrains. Strains of keyboard, guitar and pedal steel entwined with Ryan T. Jacobs’ drawn-out, pensive vocals, stitched together with the impassioned beats provided by drummer Tim Skerpon.

Described by Jacobs as “between Radiohead and Americana,” Melville is both folksy and haunting, inspiring an uneasy nostalgia in the listener. Emotive seems like an understatement; the mood evoked by each song is reflected in Jacobs’ voice, the changing tempo and the unflinching instrumental harmonies.

Keep an eye on Melville; with this emotional potency and musical precision, they will be going far.

Osa Hale


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