When I received this brand new track from Oh Captain, My Captain guitarist Josh Spacek, it came with a note saying the song, a recent demo sent to him by OCMC frontman Jesse Bettis, "kind of took [him] by surprise." And it's not hard to see why: The tunes on OCMC's self-titled '07 EP (released on buzz-label Bladen County Records) are pretty darn rockin'—drawing on the late-'60s guitar meltdowns of White Album
-era Beatles and even harder edges à la Thin Lizzy, not mention Nuggets
-esque psychedelia and garage-leaning grooves. But "Bridges and Tunnels" is, well, pretty. And sparse.
Sure, it's an early demo lacking the full-band oomph of OCMC's rhythm section (which features Alex Ellis of the Builders and the Butchers on bass and Joe Bowden, also of Invisible Rockets, on drums). But the song's different on more than just a production or band-member level. Bettis' voice is downright heavenly at moments, recalling, at times, Chris Martin of Coldplay or even a heartier Elliott Smith. And the frequent strumming of what sounds something like an autoharp—not to mention the stripped down, string-and-vocal arrangement—only drives the angelic feel home.
Toward the end, "Bridges and Tunnels" even employs and light, wavering musical saw (as far as I can tell, though it kinda sounds like a whistle, too), a sound that always strikes me as positively haunting. Any way you slice it, this tune is an interesting peek into what OCMC might be up to in future months. Not sure if this one's slated for inclusion on the band's upcoming Bladen County full-length, but I'd sure be curious to hear 'em rock it out–if that's even possible.
Oh Captain, My Captain plays Saturday, May 10, with Siberian and Caves at the Someday Lounge. 10 pm. $6 advance, $7 day of show. 21+.
Bladen County Records
Photo: courtesy of Bladen County Records' site.