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Faux Jean, The Olympic Hopefuls, and Melodious Owl (Friday, January 28th, 2005, Turf Club, St. Paul)
Faux Jean's Matty Schindler performs with Faux Jean at the Turf Club Friday - Photo by Shane Flanery (click for larger version)

By Karla Ludzack

Melodious Owl has made quite a name for themselves lately. They’ve played many well-received shows, including one on Saturday January 15th at the Entry; and Mark Mallman has just signed on to produce a “real” (as opposed to burned on a home computer) full-length CD. Friday night The Turf Club was as packed as I've ever seen it for the first band of the night. The show was actually sold out before the band took the stage so I guess everyone read Chris Riemenschneider's article on Melodious Owl in Freetime and had to come and check them out. I'm glad we showed up early enough to find a seat—even if it was during The Olympic Hopeful's sound check.

Melodious Owl kept the crowd waiting until 10 p.m. before taking to the stage. The first number was called “Audience Appreciation,” during which the band walked through the club thanking people for coming to see them. This set the tone for the show's theatrical bent, further fueled by singer Wes Statler's Jagger-like strut and facial expressions. The band is rounded out by guitarist Joe Burns and keyboard and sax player Jon Kuder. The sound is a little like Devo meets NRBQ. There's a lot of campiness, but not a lot of substance.

The audience certainly enjoyed themselves, and I agree Melodious Owl are fun to watch---there’s a lot going on for just a three-piece. I hate to put a damper on fun, and maybe we need a band that fun for fun's sake, but I'm not so sure these young men are deserving of all the praise that's being heaped on them. Music fans who have been around a while will remember Run Westy Run, The Cows, and Kentucky Gag Order. Now those were bands with theatrics! But they also had something more. Melodious Owl left me feeling that maybe the joke is on us. [Melodious Owl plays at "1st Friday's Art Here" with Aneuretical at the Minnesota Museum of American Art on Friday, February 4th.]

The Olympic Hopefuls, on the other hand, are a band that is simply overflowing with talented musicians. The track suits are a little campy, but the band backs their show up with substance in the form of brilliantly executed pop songs. We got a couple of new songs Friday, including one by keyboardist John Hermanson. Nothing could have made me happier as John has been one of my favorite singer/songwriters for years. Judging by the new material, it looks like these boys are gonna be around a little longer.

I hadn't seen the new lineup of Faux Jean yet, so I was looking forward to seeing them. As much as I enjoyed Matty Schindler playing solo acoustic shows last year, he writes the kind of songs that are even more kick ass with a good band behind them. The new female singer (Corrine Caouette) is blonde this time around [as opposed to the former female singer, dark-haired Nicole Kalodrich whose hair matched the hair of every other band member], but she has a great set of pipes, so what does it matter? Michael Lopez is the new guitarist for the band, and drummer Grinder is back adding his personality and flawless beats. The set really kicked into high gear when the band was joined by former guitarist Gene Wire in a special guest appearance. The sound at the Turf Club was great! It's good to have Faux Jean back again.

Karla Ludzak is

See also Traci Hanson's review of Melodious Owl.