Locals Only: Mors Ontologica

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

On their double-disc, three-years-in the-making opus "Yesterday's Darlings and the Bohemian Bourgeois" - set to be performed in full Saturday at Ruby Tuesday - Columbus rock quartet Mors Ontologica set out to chronicle a day in the life of this city's hipster underbelly.

"It's kind of like a Kinks album," said singer-keyboardist Marcello Antifonario, aka Crow. "It's a really local thing, like 'Muswell Hillbillies' or something, like everything's really specific to this time and place. I feel like I'm just writing, as a regular proletariat person, what it's like to live in Columbus right now."

Mors paid tribute to their North Campus neck of the woods three years ago with the song "Washington Beach." "Yesterday's Darlings" picks up that thread and runs with it for 20 tracks in 59 minutes, painting a gritty picture of a scene characterized by fickle adoration, vindictive sneers and friction between trust-fund kids and the working class.

As singer-guitarist Drew Clausen put it, the album poses the question: "What's that like to be held up, and then just dropped? And then to claw yourself back to a place where you're happy?"

Mors used the expanded running time to delve into stylistic rabbit holes the band might have otherwise passed over. As ever, it's founded on the ballsy bluster of punk and garage rock - Crow's keyboard working in tandem with Clausen's guitar against a no-frills backbeat by drummer Tim O'Dell and bassist Jeff Wiseman.

This time out, Mors' ever-widening scope also captures woozy anthem grunge ("Misery"), solo acoustic ditties ("Tuesday Morning"), orchestral art-rock ("Perfect Lie") and the album-closing drunken waltz "The Party." "From the Gutter to the Street" jangles and sways with the best of them. And Mors has never sounded so gloriously prog as they do on "Wolves."

Lyrically, the album is full of Mors' standard vitriol, only more pointed. "Persona Non Grata" is built on the angry refrain, "That chick got us banned from the clubs!" Elsewhere, "Hipster Blues" names names.

"It's not a comfortable record," Crow said. "It's really heavy, and I think we just really let it all out. There was just so much struggling and violence and pain and death and suffering. But the next record's going to be fun!"

A light-hearted follow-up entitled "Party Jams" is coming soon.

When: 10 p.m. Saturday, April 17

Where: Ruby Tuesday, Campus

Web: myspace.com/morsontologica