Beards, Blazers & Glasses or The 5 Reasons Why Bloggers (and non-bloggers) Should Like the Parson Redheads
Prior to the Internet, it seemed like Los Angeles rock bands never got their due. If you asked your average music fan what bands came from LA, most would've answered Guns N' Roses and Beck. But over the past year, something seems to have changed as Los Angeles bands have won respectable national fan bases. Most notably, the Silversun Pickups, The Cold War Kids, and The Little Ones, have delivered solid records, no matter what your local condescending Internet tastemaker will have you believe. And without a doubt, these bands have blown up thanks in large part to the blog world, whose buzz has contributed to two of the three getting major label deals.
With that in mind, if I had to pick another Los Angeles band worthy of attention, I'd like to nominate The Parson Redheads. Transplants from Oregon, land of greenery, the Alpine Slide at Mt. Hood and cheaply priced marijuana, The Redheads have been building buzz for several months in Los Angeles with live performances quite unlike most bands that I've ever seen. Conveniently, this brings me to the first reason why bloggers (and non-bloggers) should like the Parson Redheads.
1. They Are an Excellent Live BandGranted, having a good live show does not make a great band. See Phish. However, both times I've seen the Parson Redheads perform, they've delivered dynamic live shows. Delivering a brand of Byrdsian and CSNY style jangly guitar pop and four-part harmonies, the Parsons combine a tight and polished sound with spontaneous bursts of manic energy, multiple tambourine players stomping around stage, dazzling guitar guitar pyrotechnics at all the right moments, pounding fierce drums, and whirling soothing keys. The songs themselves are a mix of warm and pleasant Sunday morning come downs and up-tempo "Mr. Soul-era" Buffalo Springfield romps. Plus, with eight people rocking out on-stage, the sound is always rich and vibrant and helps to turn their shows into a celebration. Despite there being no more than 30 people in the audience at last Monday's Knitting Factory show, the band played with impressive enthusiasm and effort, managing to get all 30 people actively involved in the performance.
2. They Succesfully Walk the Line Between Gimmickry and Being Interesting
One could easily dismiss the Redheads as a gimmick. They go on-stage wearing all white. There are a whopping eight people on-stage at a time (though just six full-time band members). And like the Ramones, they have all taken the same last name. Accordingly, the band roster includes Parson Parson,Clicker Parson, Combat Parson, Slider Parson, Heavy Barrell Parson and Pony Roy Parson. This does not include the honorary Parsons listed on the band's Myspace page, including 4 Ladies Parson, Sunshine Parson and Jumping Jack Parson.
However, by no strech of the imagination is this band a gimmick. When a band uniform is done right, it can set them apart from the pack and add to their iconography. See the White Stripes. Nothing about the Parson costume seems contrived. Considering that half the band is related to one another by blood or marriage, it gives them a family feel remiscient of the Danielson tribe. Their unique appearance and stage show makes them compelling live, and worth seeing multiple times. And their name makes a whole lot more sense when you see them in person, considering their sound is heavily influenced by Gram Parsons and several bandmates have red hair.
3. They Have Cute Girls
Bloggers like bands more when they have cute girls in them. I can't argue with that logic. This is pretty much the only way that to explain the popularity of MIA and it helps one understand why Lily Allen got wildly popular. And unlike a lot of bands that just employ cute girls to shake the tambourine on-stage, the girls in the Parson Redheads can really play. Erin Way handles vocals and plays a very fine keyboard (and yes, the tambourine) while Clicker Parson (nee Brette Marie Gentry) is very capable on the drums and provides a great solid backbeat for the band's infectious rhythms. And she also happens to look quite similar to the woman named Stereogum's Miss Indie Rock 2005, Jenny Lewis.
No Word on Whether or Not Clicker Parson Was Actually in Troop Beverly Hills
4. They're Rapidly Improving
Still young, the band's sound is evolving rapidly. While this year's Field Mouse Carnival EP is certainly solid, the new songs they've been testing out from their soon-to-be-released Yukon Records debut, King Giraffe sound leaps and bounds ahead of everything the band has done before. The new songs have increasingly complex yet loose structures, allowing for improvisation that has greatly aided their live show. In doing so, they have managed to retain a consistent and warm sound, steeped in lysergic-friendly 60's nostalgia. While their lyrics are still a work in process, their simplicity suits the music well and will only improve as the band develops artistically.
5. They Won't Be a Secret Much Longer
It's okay guys, you can admit it. Deep down, everyone wants to like a band before they got big, so they can brag to their friends, "yeah...well, I saw them when there were only four people in the room and three of them were wearing horse outfits." There's no shame in it.
And rest assured, The Parson Redheads are one national tour away from breaking out bigtime. It's hard to see them live and not walk away a believer. In fact, they might not even need a national tour to blow up, as their Free Monday night December residency at the Echo might be enough to greatly increase their profile.
The band has already started to get noticed in Los Angeles. You Set the Scene has already declared himself a big fan of the band and their live show. And if you read his blog, you know by now that Duke is pretty much always right. Don't believe him? Then believe Blogging LA who have also given them a ringing endorsement. Either way, if you're in LA, you should drag yourself to that December residency and see this band. And if you can't, then you'll just have to settle for these tracks from the Field Mouse EP.
The Parson Redheads on Myspace
The Parson Redheads: "Punctual as Usual" (right-click, save as)
The Parson Redheads: "Burning Up the Sky" (right-click, save as)