Stereo Deluxe, The Melismatics, The Comfies, The Honesty, The Jeremy Vogt Band
Friday, Jan. 19, 10 p.m.
No, he’s not that Ben Harper. In fact, he’s still ticked about the way his MySpace page was mysteriously handed over to the better-known leader of the Innocent Criminals.
“I logged in one day, and they had just snaked it out from under me,” says Benjamin Adam Harper, leader of Nashville, Tenn.-based power-pop quartet the Comfies. “No warning, no notice. I was pretty disgruntled about that.”
One listen to the Comfies should eliminate any confusion. This Harper is an uncommon songwriter who puts melody first, isn’t afraid to rock and seems to draw from the full four-decade history of his chosen genre: the chimy guitars and sweet vocal harmonies of the Byrds and the Beatles; the ’70s crunch of Big Star, Badfinger and Cheap Trick; the sophistication of Squeeze and Elvis Costello; and the controlled squall of ’90s Britpop.
Appearing Friday at Spin (the former Patio) with Minneapolis friends the Melismatics, local favorites Stereo Deluxe and others, the Comfies are touting their seven-song debut EP, “Close to Me,” and building a buzz for their first full-length, set for release later this year on Atlanta, Ga.-based Livewire Recordings.
Variety rules on the EP, which is available through iTunes and Amazon. The opening title cut blasts muscular riffs and walls of fuzz not unlike the Foo Fighters. “In Your Room” is a downright pretty ballad set to gentle R&B grooves that gather energy but never boil over. “Understanding 23,” on the other hand, starts with a piano but eventually blows up into a grandiose Radiohead-style coda.
Harper recorded the songs with friends who have since moved on, and he later assembled the current lineup of bassist Nathan Hansen, drummer Sam Smith and lead guitarist/keyboardist Rafael Cevallos. But with its extreme dynamics and complex arrangements, “Close to Me” sounds like the work of a road-tested band.
“A lot of it came out of my head originally,” Harper says. “I write a song and I hear the whole arrangement, harmonies and all that stuff.”
One thing he didn’t want was for a specific sound to characterize the band.
“I hate it when I buy a record and by the sixth song in, the songs might be good still, but it all runs together,” he says, citing one of his heroes. “Paul McCartney is just the most versatile songwriter, someone who can write ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ or ‘Blackbird’ and then write ‘Helter Skelter.’ I want to be that kind of songwriter. I want to keep on experimenting.”