I don't normally review bands, and it's unlikely I'll be doing this again, but this is a local band that I'm embarrassed to have missed for so long. Until this weekend, I'd skipped The Capitol Year. After hearing an earlier album,it seems a good thing I waited. I might have been turned off by the simplicity of the earlier work.
Seeing them now as a first time listener, The Capitol Years struck me as a band ready to hit the big time. They've got everything that the last hundred or so one-hit wonders have had, but with the bonus that they've already got at least three tunes that *could* get high rotation if they ever got wide airplay. This is, of course, unlikely to happen in these days of Clear Channel domination, but it *should* happen.
Their current live show is most similar to their Jewelry Store EP -- a solid effort of college radio styled pop rock. By 'pop' I mean more like White Stripes rather than Brittany Spears. By 'rock' I mean more like Beatles rather than Led Zeppelin.
They played second of three bands in the show and -- while competent -- they displayed the least technical prowess at playing their instruments. This was *not* a drawback. The other bands were older muscians with skill, but non song writing ability. The Capitol Years had well strucutred songs that ranked hands-down best of any local band I've seen in years. Their songs are even *more* listenable than 80% of the current small-club touring bands I hear. They do a pleasing update on an older style of rock and make it sound fresh. If Capitol Years had come up in the times of the old American Bandstand, any of their tunes would surely have garnered the standard praise, "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it."
I have to give somewhat backhanded praise because they struck me as striving too hard. The lead's personna and obviously-practiced stage moves frequently came off as too high school, but I give them credit for trying. I like bands that do more than just stand there and play, but certain bits were so over staged that it distracted from the music. They're young, though, so maybe they'll get it down as they mature.
Also, these guys aren't breaking any new ground. If you like the genre, you're destined to like these guys. Even if you don't, you won't switch channels if your college channel plays them. You might even find yourself humming one of their hooks. They're similar to dozens of other young bands. In their live set, one tune had a bridge highly reminiscent of the main riff for Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray". Another tune sounded like a Pink Floyd homage. All songs were in line with this pseudo-retro trend I keep hearing from a current subset of bands.
Despite my complaints, I'd like to see this band make it big. They strike me as *exactly* the kind of band that can both appeal to a wide audience now and mature into something more if given support. If they come to a club near you, please give them a listen. Tell me if their mix of showmanship and musical ability is or is not good enough (and non-threatening enough) for them to play on Conan O'Brien or another late-late show.