Sometimes the only way to break up monotony in life is to thrust yourself into an unfamiliar situation. It can be a dramatic, “pick-up-and-move-to-a-new-city” kind of decision or something more subtle. Take, for example, when 1146’s own Matt asked if I wanted to check out a concert in Annapolis a few weeks ago. I had not ever heard any of the acts, and I intentionally decided not to listen before the show in the hopes of being happily surprised; indeed, I was. The first band to play was Baltimore’s caustic yet joyous SUN CLUB. They were followed by an excellent set by the very talented Friendly People. But the biggest surprise of the night, for me, was the closing act: an acoustic set performed by two members of Annapolis’ own Cole Cash.
I had already chalked the night up as a success by the time 1/2 of Cole Cash (multi-instrumentalist Thom Beall and vocalist/guitarist Bri Ong) took the stage; their performance elevated the night of music from really good to something truly special. Their mournful melodies backed by gentle yet complex guitar arrangements instantly caught my ear as being uncommonly beautiful. My favorite song of the night, which if I recall correctly is entitled “Perturbed”, was revealed to be written about a girl in attendance at the show who apparently left. (I’m very curious if they would have played it if she stuck around!)
Thom graciously handed me a CD of their 2012 LP Radio, What Radio?. It’s been my companion in the car ever since. Album opener “Faded” leads in with a math-y electric guitar figure reminiscent of a Danny Elfman theme. “Humanity” has an alternative groove a la classic Pixies. But my favorite track does an excellent job of representing their acoustic talents: the folky “Alkaline” (listen below). The song’s harmonies and optimistic shuffle never cease to hit me right in the gut. The group’s lyrics are earnest and poetic without ever feeling forced. I hope to see them again live, in either a full-band configuration or another acoustic set. Until then, I’ll keep replaying “Alkaline” and singing along in the Mazda, butchering the melodies and harmonies to my heart’s content.