Monday, January 19, 2009

Review: Anya Marina, Jenny Owen Youngs and Greg Laswell @ Great Scott, 1/14

Not all acoustic singer-songwriters are created equal. And boy, are there many! A guitar is usually the weapon of choice with the ins and outs of romantic drama making up the plan of attack. So how does a female artist stand out among countless others in an already overpopulated genre?

If you're Anya Marina, you add some rock 'n' roll and keep us laughing the whole time, always sweet and never taking yourself too seriously. (Being featured on Grey's Anatomy a few times doesn't hurt either.) Then again, easier said than done; being that cool isn't for everyone. Anya manages to hit the bulls eye that falls somewhere in the middle of relatable, likeable, catchy, and funny. She's also darn cute.

Last Wednesday night, Anya reeled in the crowd from the start with the title track from her debut LP and featured track on the Grammy-nominated Grey's Anatomy soundtrack, "Miss Halfway." She kept things moving with new material from her upcoming album, Slow and Steady Seduction: Phase II, which drops this Tuesday.

A former radio DJ in her native Cali, her DJ roots especially showed between songs. Anya hit every punch line in her bizarre story about the seemingly "nice college girl" seated next to her on the plane who was afflicted with—wait for it—Restless Leg Syndrome! Don't let the lame name fool you, because if there's any truth to Anya's story—kicking, moaning, twitching, rocking and all—Restless Leg Syndrome is serious business.

She ended with her current single, "Move You," in which she doles out her frustration on a guy who can't seem to get it right. Anya could only do so much with her songs playing on her own, but it was her winning personality that made the biggest impression. She'll be back at Great Scott with a full band on February 7th with The Virgins.

Jenny Owen Youngs came next, the main draw of the night. Her strong following is justified; she has a way of nailing the nature of all things heartbreak. Pair that with a pop sensibility and a pretty voice and we have the stuff acoustic/indie/pop dreams are made of. Jenny kept things light between songs, always the jokester. Then, she would hit us with the lines that hurt so good: "I'm developing my sense of humor/ 'Til I can laugh at my heart between your teeth..../ Maybe I'll be the lucky one that doesn't get burned/ What the f*ck was I thinking?"

Greg Laswell was scheduled to play next. Unfortunately, we were unable to stay for his set. I'm sure he wooed with my favorite from him, "Sing, Theresa Says," though.

You can't ask for a more fun or more solid bill of indie acoustic artists than these three friends. Keep a watchful eye and ear out as you are bound to catch a song by any one of them in an intense scene on your favorite drama sometime soon.

- Jessy Bartlett

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