Local music review: The Town Monster

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A lot of bands these days make ambitious plans to flood the marketplace (read: internet) with a steady stream of new material, like a series of EPs, one new single per week, whatever. Few of them keep up with it - just ask Ghost Shirt how their 52 singles in 52 weeks project is going.

The Town Monster, it turns out, is a band of its word. With debut "Autumn People" in the can, they set out to unveil a new "Ohio Sessions" EP every month this year. Ten months in, they're going strong with a Bandcamp page full of three- and four-song bundles.

If anything, milking his muse month after month has elevated Nathan Photos' game since the promising but uneven "Autumn People." September EP opener "One Thousand Wolves" even overcomes some garish synth arpeggios reminiscent of Mannheim Steamroller's last Christmas disc, blooming into a downright enjoyable new wave behemoth.

They're becoming more formidable on stage too, though their current lack of a bassist hindered them Friday at the Ravari Room. Aside from the lack of low-end rumble, it was a lively and entertaining show.

Credit some of the flair to their unconventional setup. Two keyboard rigs facing each other yielded an intriguing stage dynamic, especially when Photos and James Allison both bowed their heads and took to the electronic ivories.

It didn't just look cool. Columbus rock bands don't often forgo guitars, and those keys-only passages yielded fascinating sonic textures.

Guitar still plays a prominent role in The Town Monster, though, much to the Ravari crowd's delight. The band got its best reaction playing the Arctic Monkeys-ish "Foxy Girl," a back-to-basics rocker that's infectious yet obnoxious.

This song could slide easily into an iTunes commercial or a Clampdown DJ set, but so could Jet, and Jet sucks. Hearing Photos' deranged wail sing bland tripe like "You got it goin' on" rubs me the wrong way, but I can't deny the song's dance floor prowess.

That was merely one of many flavors The Town Monster served up - some enthralling, some perplexing. I've got to admire a band that's keeping me on my toes with such frequent and diverse dispatches.

The Town Monster

10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4


2590 N. High St., Campus