It's easy to dismiss the Origin as pale imitations of the other groups its band members emulate - that's until you see them live, of course.
At times, the quartet, from La Jolla, Calif., resembles thankfully defunct British misery-popsters the Smiths, Scottish jazz-folk combo Aztec Camera and even some '60s beach-bop bands.To their credit, the four youthful Originites - who range from age 20 to 22 - succeed on their recordings despite some sonic inconsistencies, primarily on the strong, angst-ridden lyrics of Mike Andrews and Daniel Silverman's sparkling piano work.
Onstage, the band also succeeds because of the song variety, mainly because songs that sound so stylistically disparate on their self-titled debut album actually sound like they're being played by the same band that wrote them, rather than their inspirations.
Onstage Andrews' sometimes frail vocals took on a grittier edge, as did much of the breezy instrumentation. For example, their frankly wimpy hit single "Set Sails Free" - which on the album sometimes echoes the horrid Ocean Blue - sounded terrific.
Each innovation has its drawbacks, however, and in person, Silverman's impressionistic keyboard work was replaced by a tinny Yamaha, especially on the band's otherwise sparkling "Everyone Needs Love," which features Beatlesque harmonies between Andrews and bass guitarist Topper Rimmel.
Unfortunately, during the song's draggy middle - for which Andrews replaced Silverman's keyboard solo for a longer guitar instrumental - a large percentage of the teenybopper crowd indulged in a sappy little wave-along.
Oh well, the band is really at its best during Andrews' more folky numbers, like the brisk "November Days," into which he injected crisp acoustic guitar strumming (a la Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame) over Silverman's synthesizer swells.
Andrews also thrives on impressionistic lyrics, in particular on the almost agonizing "Never Coming Down" - which somewhat recalls the '70s atrocity "Dream Weaver" . . . but in a good way - as witnessed by:Of the band's set, this gem shone through above the others, probably since the arrangement is as wonderful as the lyrics, particularly in its slow downward spiral involving strong interplay between keyboards and bass.
Expectations for the show's attendance were high - as well they should for such a talented young band - particularly because of the turnout for the band's first performance in Utah this year (which, admittedly, was free at the now defunct Speedway Cafe). The Horticulture Building was at least half full of screaming, hopping and dancing teens. Who could ask for more than that?
Opening the show was local quintet Commonplace, which features members of other veteran Salt Lake-area bands. The experience has at least somewhat paid off, since the group has found its own identity - following in the footsteps of early British post-punk groups into pop terrain.
Lead vocalist Lara's voice sounds similar to Siouxsie Sioux. Initially, I was put off by that trait, but after a while the band's twin guitars wound up soothing the savage breast.
Give these guys a chance. Commonplace isn't afraid to rock out or even be gentle, and that's good. It's refreshing to see a local band that doesn't emulate skate-punk pioneers Suicidal Tendencies, and that should be encouraged.