November 10, 2010 8pm
2507 Summit Street
Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, an indie pop ensemble hailing from Chicago, is perhaps the furthest thing away from an evangelistic singing group. Founded by college graduates with specialty degrees in music, the band took shape in summer 2001 when Ellen O’Hayer (cello/bass) and Welsh-born Elia Einhorn (organ/guitar) released the charming four-track record “Do You Still Stick Out in the Crowd.” Percussionist Sam Koentopp and Boston native Matthew Kerstein (guitar/vocals) joined the two in time for the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir’s proper debut single. “Jennie That Cries” was released in early 2002, and WXRT’s Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot were among the band’s early fans. Local shows in the Windy City gave the four friends some well-needed concert experience, and dates with the likes of the Fiery Furnaces, the Children’s Hour, Sea Ray, Of Montreal, and Jay Bennett soon followed.
Their second single, “I Never Thought I Could Feel This Way for a Boy,” was recorded in support of the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir’s debut album. I Bet You Say That to All the Boys, which appeared in fall 2003, was a bona fide pop album with its glossy guitar hooks, O’Hayer’s honeyed vocals, and the band’s overall sweet performance. After the departure of Kerstein(who left to start his own group, Brighton MA), the band signed with Bloodshot Records in 2007 and released its self-titled label debut in October of the same year. After a couple years spent touring the world, the band returned with a new album, …And the Horse You Rode in On, as well as a new lineup of Chicago-based musicians. Released during the early autumn of 2009, the album further refined the band’s chamber pop sound and featured appearances by Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers) and Martin Atkins (PiL, Killing Joke). - ©2010 Rovi, All Music Guide
The sheer amount of talent compiled in Maza Blaska made the band a must-see, so last Tuesday I went to Carabar and did just that.
Since midway through last year, the core of the band has remained Yoni Mizrachi and Sam Corlett (she of Karate Coyote fame) doubling up on vocals, with Mizrachi strumming his guitar and Corlett wielding an array of instruments including mandolin and Glockenspiel. Bassist Kyle Charles and drummer Tim Murray have been consistent contributors too, though Murray is on his way out to tend to daddy duties.
The new and (presumably) improved ensemble on view Tuesday featured two of the city’s most talented solo acts flexing their sideman muscles on the flanks. At stage left was Dane Terry, one of the city’s truest musical talents whose piano playing enriches just about everything he contributes to.
Stage right found Blake Miller, a former Alive Bands to Watch honoree for his whispery indie-rock concoctions, contributing sonic special effects with his guitar machinery - with his back to the audience, of course.
The songs I previewed on MySpace were sonically minimal and wide open, like Islands’ take on tropical twee filtered through Spoon’s production values. So I didn’t expect a stage sound as thick as the one they unveiled. The extra pieces totally transformed this band’s identity from light and airy to densely saturated. Sometimes it worked wonders, but just as often it sounded over-stuffed. Lots of good ideas but not enough focus? Edit, edit, edit. - Chris DeVille, Alive