Willingly believing Anaya

On the street in front of Old Ironsides, the brick walls of the building were resonating with sound. It wasn’t particularly surprising, because Frank Jordan was still within, finishing up a set to a packed house. It also will not be surprising to readers of this paper to hear that Frank Jordan is perhaps the area’s most consistently excellent band right now: a trio that is stunningly tight and musically interesting, presenting a deft mix of the Pixies, the Smiths and, weirdly, Iggy Pop—all blended into a sound that is emotional without being too mewling, and intellectual without being pretentious. (And those, needless to say, are difficult tightropes to walk, replete with hoops of fire and angry tigers.)

The sidewalk discussion, though, isn’t about Frank Jordan, but rather the band that preceded it: An Angle. As a music fan, I was relatively skeptical about its set, particularly since in the past the band struck me as being terribly derivative of Omaha indie-darlings Bright Eyes. Nonetheless, various parties I respect continued to talk up An Angle’s new material, indicating that the band has moved away from Omaha toward something new.

Kris Anaya’s new lineup includes former Quitter member Robert Cheek on guitar, session drummer Matt McCord and various members of now defunct prog-rockers Mister Metaphor. The result is a four-guitar lineup. With drums, two keyboards and two vocalists, it’s an eight-person band. (And this doesn’t include the two violinists who were too young to get into the club to play.) This frees up Anaya to simply sing and be the frontman. Anaya dances, mimes and even does weird sign language while the band jokes, chats and rocks out behind him.

I found it to be a very effective set, but that wasn’t the case for some of my companions on the street outside. One, in particular, found Anaya’s performance to be soulless and phony, and this person provided Didley Squat’s David Mohr as a contrasting example of a singer who is all from the soul. (No disagreement there.)

This brings up a relatively complicated argument, for the position of being on a stage is an “act” in itself—emoting in front of an audience. As an audience member, one can choose to buy it or not. Dead English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it “the willing suspension of disbelief,” the ability of the audience to choose to suspend its doubt and go with the moment. Anaya is either able to convince you to suspend that disbelief or not. For this local-music fan, the new, improved An Angle convinced me, and then some. I look forward to hearing the band’s new release, which is slated for release on Drive-Thru Records. Find more at www.ananglemusic.com.

Local indie-poppers the Famous Celebrities have called it quits just after releasing their new CD, Rock. No specific reasons for the breakup were given. Principal singer-songwriter Adam Varona will continue performing under his own name, as will the band’s drummer, Mike Rofé. Guitarist Dave Middleton and vocalist-keyboardist Julie Meyers are forming a new project. Varona, incidentally, has recently appeared as part of local comedy troupe I Can’t Believe It’s Not Comedy’s all-star house band. More on all of this at http://thefamouscelebrities.blogspot.com.