Swinging for the duck pond

No, the “Dan” storyline, in a current comic strip that will not be mentioned, isn’t worth talking about. Sorry, but defrauding an insurance company by faking a fishing accident is not rock ’n’ roll. Also not rock ’n’ roll: Sanjaya’s hair, Simon Cowell’s ego, Midtown sushi bars and this band from Davis that opened for Amy Cooper at Old Ironsides last Thursday.

While a large contingent of downtown club rats packed into the Blue Lamp that night to see Sport Riot, the “secret show” incarnation of a well-known local band of the Betty Crocker persuasion, those of us without sufficient trucker-cap cred were motivated, by simple desires to breathe, to search for entertainment in non-sardine-tin environments. Nothing against Duncan Hines, mind you.

Ergo, Old I. After a nice set in the pub at the Fox & Goose by the Juggs, an old-timey jug band featuring Internet voting activist Kim Alexander, and after a Fox & Goose Cornish pasty that darn near rendered me comatose, I wandered a block over to catch an evening of amped-up femme rock by Cooper, Liani Moore and an opening band I wasn’t familiar with.

I was hoping the music would shake me out of my torpor. Up on the TV above the Old I’s bar, Tiger Woods was fighting for his life at the Masters tournament; various golf icons were being interviewed, all of them wearing some kind of corporate swag, most of them pimping various investment houses. Then Radio Astronomy started playing.

Now, the foursome onstage certainly had a polished sound. And with a ready-made collegiate audience that seems to take to soft and comfortable rock-flavored music of the Hootie & the Blowfish and Dave Matthews Band variety the way a duck takes to that water trap at the 13th hole down at dad’s country club, who’s to fault a bunch of guys for steering the ol’ Tiger Woods-approved musical Buick right down the middle of the road?

Indeed, from a contrarian point of view, you’ve almost got to give major props to any combo that consistently can serve up a sound that makes the Eagles sound adventurous. Singer/guitarist David Fletcher has mellowed that Eddie Vedder style of murrrgggh vocals to something that might fit nicely into the context of Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Santa Barbara band Radio Astronomy cites first on its list of influences on its MySpace page (www.myspace.com/radioastronomy). Fletcher’s bandmates, lead guitarist Nate Bisig, bassist Andy Armstrong and drummer Brian Poole, never let any slouches toward a groove swerve into something that might get them into trouble, keeping a firm Jack Johnson grip on the festivities. The band’s apparent lack of anything resembling musical ambition is remarkable. Or is it? Plenty of people get quite wealthy serving comfort food. And the band did play a nice cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.”

That said, the four songs from Radio Astronomy’s recent album, October, posted at its MySpace page, do improve with subsequent listens.

Prediction: Radio Astronomy will be huge, and this quote will be pulled out of context by some publicist for the band’s press kit. Cooper should be massive, but I’m guessing her golf game isn’t up to snuff for today’s corporate-music milieu. In a perfect world, Cooper would be the star.