Not long after moving into my now two-year-old apartment, I was unpleasantly awoken by my upstairs neighbor's daily 10 am band practice. She would start each session with the same Depeche Mode-inspired keyboard solo, followed by wailing attempts to hit notes far too low for her nasally register. Then one or two off-beat guitars would join in until the music would suddenly stop, when upstairs-girl would reprimand the two male guitar players. (I'm assuming it was a reprimand, since listening to three people talk through layers of insulation and aluminum siding sounds much like the nonsensical teacher in those Charlie Brown cartoons.) I never met the girl—she moved out just a few months after I moved in—but if her band ever plays a show in Portland, I can tell you I won't be in the audience.
That's the thing about this town: Chances are, your neighbor or friend or someone you know plays in a band. In the case of jangly rock band Blue Horns, the band members are roommates of a friend of mine. (For the record, I know these three guys exclusively through their music.) There's nothing worse than pretending to like an acquaintance's band—anyone who has dated a musician knows what I mean here—but there's no need to fake it with Blue Horns.
According Blue Horns' MySpace page, when it comes to the band's music, "The invitation is straight-forward: you should be dancing." But the band's slightly off-beat sound and banjo-inspired rock, much like fellow Portland janglers the Shaky Hands or the Builders and the Butchers, begs for foot-stomping over toe-tapping. On the track "Boots On"—an upbeat song that includes the call to "Start dancing!"—the vocals are warbly, channeling a less angry-sounding Jello Biafra over bouncing guitars. While the self-recording isn't perfect (there's a little too much reverb at times and sometimes it's hard to make out the lyrics) but Blue Horns are off to a good start. Just give these guys a little time to polish their sound, and they'll be more than just your friend's band.
Blue Horns at MySpace
Photo from BlueHornSpace