At varying times, Oso Bear’s sound resembles early Indie Rock, pre-trendy Grunge, Classic Rock, Southern Rock, Punk and Garage Rock, but, in the end, it’s only Rock & Roll … and I like it. The band has the swagger and spirit of the Stones, The Replacements and New York Dolls, but its more modern influences creep into the songwriting and keep things from getting too retro or one-dimensional. There’s some great guitar interplay between Chris Bowling and Ben Cochran, who each have distinct styles that they manage to make sound perfectly in-sync when combined. And Bowling has a great Rock & Roll voice — it’s not a precise instrument, but it has a dirty soulfulness that fits the group’s dynamics well.
While there’s often a loose, reckless vibe to Oso Bear’s approach, it belies a persistent creativity in the rhythms, riffs and song structures. “Cocaine Smile” begins with a peppy, chiming intro before falling into a rollicking strut, with Keith Richards-like riffage and a great, yearning chorus, while “Darling Girl” mixes Hard Rock breakdowns with a breakneck, Punk-meets-Roots Rock whirl.
Overall, Oso Bear introduces the foursome as a powerful Rock & Roll force in the local music scene and instantly conjures images of an amazing, sweaty, energized live show. Like a pre-superstar King of Leon transported to the mid-’80s Minneapolis Indie scene, Oso Bear tempers Rock & Roll abandon with well-crafted songs and melodies, ending up with a sound that is both charismatically fun and creatively satisfying.
More Local Notes
• This Sunday at Molly Malone’s in Covington, several area performers team up for a benefit to help local music lover Steve Cresap, who has Cerebral Palsy and is in need of a new “enclosed” cart to help him get around in inclement weather. The show runs 3 p.m.-1 a.m. and will include performances by Sonny Moorman, The Graveblankets, Tickled Pink, The Bluebirds, Larry Goshorn & Kenny Cowden, Bob Cushing, The Garry Gorrell Quartet and Lucky Spaulding. Admission is a $10 donation; those who can’t make it can donate through www.myspace.com/itsabenefit.
• Puz, the debut full-length from Juan Cosby, the solo, Electronica guise of local musician Nick Mitchell, gets “release partied” this Friday at East End Café. For the show, Cosby/Mitchell will be joined by Andy Schrock, DJ Kubby, Pharaoh Loosey and Mitchell’s “main” band, Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar, which recently welcomed guitarist John Gentry Jr. (Super-Massive, Heavy Weather, Ray’s Music Exchange, Naked Redheads) to the fold. The $5 cover charge also gets you a copy of the new album. (www.myspace.com/juancosby)
• Downtown didn’t just get a new Mexican restaurant when Taqueria Mercado recently opened in the old Javier’s spot on Walnut Street — it also got a new live music venue. Along with plenty of local Latin and Salsa music, the restaurant will also feature other types of local sounds. This weekend is the live music kick-off: Latin band Uno Mas plays Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday at 9:30 p.m., local Rockabilly/Hillbilly band StarDevils plays its first area show since returning from dates in the U.K. Future bookings include The Kentucky Struts (Oct. 23), Ryan Mallot & Kelly Thomas (Oct. 29), Zumba (Nov. 13) and Super-Massive (Nov. 20).
• Indie Rock foursome The Western is the “Artist in Residence” at the Southgate House’s Juney’s Lounge for October (meaning they play there for free every Wednesday this month at 9 p.m.). The group will be joined by several local artists for each show. Rob Barnes of Slow Claw plays this Wednesday, Charlie Hustle joins the band Oct. 20 and Jeff and Misty Perholtz of The Newbees play Oct. 27. (www.facebook.com/thewestern)
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