Local music review: New City Gypsy

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Genre jumping can be a bitch.

In principle, there's nothing wrong with careening across the musical landscape. In fact, it can be exhilarating when you've got the right driver behind the wheel. But so much stylistic shifting can cause whiplash when bands fail to cohere into a singular identity.

I've derided musicians before for their failure to corral their influences into something listeners can get a grip on. Those groups should grab a magnifying glass and commence a close study of New City Gypsy.

The local rock quintet didn't stumble into cohesion. They worked hard for many years to hash out their identity, even shuffling through three previous band names before they found one that seems to be sticking. After half a decade of toil in Columbus dives, they spent two years in the studio tinkering with their sound until they finally emerged with debut "The Night Never Sleeps."

All of that effort was worth it. Last Wednesday at The Summit, New City Gypsy was a supernova.

Guitars raged with herky-jerky riffage. The rhythm section seethed. Melodies cut through the chaos. They rocked with passion and precision, Austin Bain spouting apocalyptic spiels as Devin Ryan belted out background sounds.

At one point, ascendant local rapper Path leaned over and noted, "These are true Columbus professionals." I couldn't agree more.

Nostalgia for the '90s is rising to fever pitch, but this band's reference points are straight from the '80s - as were their wardrobes, apparently. Not many artists can conjure The Cure, Mission of Burma and Metallica in one swoop without losing their balance, but that's exactly what New City Gypsy did.

Consider "Tugboat," a pop anomaly among all of the band's big-riff heroics. The jangly New Wave single sticks out, but not like a sore thumb. Bain's harsh calls to arms cast a consistent mood that ties everything together.

It's still tough to pinpoint these guys, but there's a unifying spirit in their work that's immediately recognizable and immensely appealing. You really ought to let them take you for a ride sometime.