From Albany New York the Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned is an ambitious and talented outfit, that is inspired by the classic band Neutral Milk Hotel.
While exploring the vast world of the Internet, I came across their page and kept going back. The music is derivative but has originality and a smorgasbord of instrumentation. On their profile they display their influences (Neutral Milk Hotel) without apologies.
So I took it upon myself to see them live at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn. This is a group of fine musicians. Aside from some technical difficulties with the banjo hook up, they did a nice job presenting their material. The diversity of sound has unique possibilities because many of the members can interchange roles and instruments for different songs and even during songs.
This is a five-member band of guitar, bass, two trumpets, coronet, french horn, sax, accordion, ukulele, percussion/drums, bow/saw and banjo. The trumpet player Tim Koch sings and plays the ukulele and can pound on a drum piece changing roles without a hitch. I couldn't take my eyes off Dan Pardee. He played the saw and bow masterfully, accordion, trumpet, drums and even the typewriter. I admire his work ethic and acumen . Alex Muro the lead vocalist and guitar player was strong at the helm and affable. The brass section nicely supported his vocals harmonizing with him in between blows.
They are a very ambitious band, and given time and experience performing, their delivery will meet up with their ambition. I really enjoyed the set. My only criticism was that when they performed an obvious cover by Neutral Milk Hotel the whole band went into overdrive and was animated and exciting to watch.
Their original songs sounded fine and there were moments when they were equally enthralled, but not as charged and confident. Hopefully with more experience their original songs will thrive as well.
They are planning an east coast tour in the fall and I think they will develop their stage persona and work out some of the kinks. They are almost there and that is a good thing for a young band.
After the Show I purchased their release While Waiting for the Space Age that has wonderful instrumentation, great song order and selection and is quite multi layered. There are some obvious "Hotel" segments on the recording but there is originality in the songwriting and arrangements. It also brings to mind the band Beirut but with more folk elements. Originality will develop with time. Inspiration and ambition are nice ingredients for the development of great music.
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