|Photo by: Provided|
Thursday night, Athens' very own biker bar will host a show jam-packed with so much jazz-infused prog-rock, it’ll make your head spin.
Both Vagrant Beat and Zapano have become Athens staples, often playing together and blasting audiences with their unique spin on alternative rock. Riley, on the other hand, is an up-and-coming four piece from the far-off land of Dayton.
Riley is brand-spankin' new and the band has only been playing together a little shy of three months.
“I would say that best approximation of the band’s sound is something like Maps and Atlases and Bear vs. Shark,” said Hunter Reed, Riley’s manager, in a recent interview. He name-drops two bands that fall somewhere between the categories of math rock and post-hardcore with a dabble of indie plopped in the mix somewhere.
Maybe Riley has only been around for a couple months, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been hard at work.
“We just released our first EP,” Reed said, commenting on the band’s most recent career development.
The EP is entitled Cat of Nine Tails: Part 1, and it is slated to be the first installment of a musical trilogy chronicling the life of Jonah, a completely fictional character who undergoes a series of hardships from his early childhood until his eventual death.
“It’s told in a nonlinear way,” Reed said.
The songs on the EP are organized into chapters that take the story, written by Eric Bluebaum, and move them into the technically sharp music that the album is full of.
Admittedly, the rock opera-style release is a bit of a progressive rock tradition. Think of Yes’ 1973 historic album Tales from Topographic Oceans or the classics, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon. Think of the Alan Parsons Project, which based its entire career on a slew of concept albums.
So, it only makes sense that modern sort-of prog-rocky (listen to the mix of almost-jazz and fast-paced guitars on a couple of their tracks) outfit Riley would want to make the first effort one large enough to be considered a sort of a concept album.
Riley is definitely not a "dumb rock band," going as far as to define the music with an artistic goal outlined by the actions of fictional character Mick Kelly in the 1940 novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
In that particular novel, Kelly is a definite tomboy who loves music more than anything and she dreams of creating a violin out of the bits and pieces of things that she finds in her small town. She creates something of an "inner room" where she can keep her precious violin and, as the novel progresses, she slowly loses the ability to access her inner room.
Besides working hard to release the second and third sections of the trilogy, the band will play Madlove Music Festival which is at Sawyer Point in Cincinnati on Saturday, May 26.
As mentioned, Zapano--arguably the most established of any of the bands--are joining Riley at the Smiling Skull this Thursday. With their odd, almost experimental-jazz take on the prog-rock feel, they seem to unite every act making an appearance at the show. Fronted by Sean Hudley, the band is consistently one of the most impressive purveyors of the 11-minute song on the Athens music scene.
Vagrant Beat released an EP in August of last year and has been playing all over Athens since. The band is definitely post-hardcore, drawing a little bit from Fugazi and maybe a lot from At The Drive-In.
Thursdays can be rough, being the last real day before Friday and all. Make your Thursday night spectacular by making your way to the Smiling Skull Saloon around 10 p.m. to catch some super proggy tunes.
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