Home, But Not Alone

Local Emo rockers Close to Home are a band on the verge. In just three years, the group has already racked up more accomplishments than many bands do in a lifetime. They were chosen for a WEBN/Budwe

Local Emo rockers Close to Home are a band on the verge. In just three years, the group has already racked up more accomplishments than many bands do in a lifetime. They were chosen for a WEBN/Budweiser local band CD compilation to kickstart their career, then they got invited to play dates on the Vans Warped Tour and early this year they were asked to perform on the entire 60-date, cross-country "New Panic Tour." They also have secured endorsement deals and management, and they recorded and released their slick, major label-worthy debut, Picture Perfect, which shows them to be as good (and often better) than the scores of Punk/Pop acts shaking up the Billboard charts, with intimate lyricism, ear-grabbing chorus hooks and a sharpened wall of guitar sheen. Hearing their accomplished, catchy and passionate CD, it's hard not to imagine a large label throwing support behind the band in the near future.

But, in the midst of the New Panic Tour, the five-piece hit a mountain of a bump in the road. The band's 20-year-old bassist, Brad Andress, was taken to an emergency room on their way to Salt Lake City for what the band thought was a severe cold. Doctors told Andress that he had terminal cancer, which had spread to his lung (Andress had already battled cancer once, after being diagnosed and treated for the deadly liposarcoma about a year ago). Andress' lung was removed, but he will have to undergo additional treatment and surgery to track whether the cancer has spread.

Just as when things were going well for the band, in their time of need there has been widespread support for Close to Home and their friend/bassist.

This Saturday, a benefit for Andress takes place at The Underground in Forest Park. Close to Home, Ellison, Million Less Than 1, Landen Falls, Made Avail and Sayanora Tiger perform. Along with the money raised at the door, funds for Andress' medical expenses will be raised through various auctions throughout the night; items include two on-stage tickets to the Warped Tour's Cincinnati stop this summer as well as a guitar donated by Warped Tour founder and Close to Home supporter Kevin Lyman. If you can't make the gig, donations can be made through the band's Web site, closetohomerock.com.

Collier's Double Dip
Singer/songwriter Chris Collier celebrates the release of her ambitious new CD, Over Twenty, this Sunday at the York Street Café in Newport starting at 5 p.m. Collier will be joined by the multitude of local guests who appear on the CD, including Greg Mahan, Tracy Walker, Chris Haubner, Ryan Adcock, Pam Temple and scores of others.

When Collier hit the studio in late 2004, she began building on 21 songs she had put together, with the idea of releasing two separate discs. But she eventually felt that the songs belonged together, thus releasing Over Twenty as a two-disc set. Collier's lyrics seem very personal and intimate, making this collection a bit like her musical autobiography, with direct references to her parents on "My Word" and her brother on "Hey." Both introspective and retrospective, the discs feel like an audio mid-life crisis (without the Ferrari). Collier's writing, as she's shown across her three previous releases, is folksy, melodic, poetic and emotive, and the musicality provided by the guest musicians is top-notch, as strings hover, flutes flutter, banjos pluck, organs grind and harmonies caress, all supported by Collier's lithe acoustic strumming and down-to-earth vocals.

Disc 2 is the stronger of the two sides, as the songs musically show more punch and diversity. "The Ride" is a perfect slice of wispy, tender Folk/Pop, "Something About You" is expressive Soul/Blues and "Swoosh" is shuffling Americana. Collier's lyrics are her ace in the hole, continually compelling whether singing about an eccentric relative ("Cousin Ann") or the way love doesn't dampen with time, even though the physicality does ("Love's Just Thicker"). Her poetic skills peak on "Night Train," with eloquently evocative lines like "Between the snowlight o'er the mountains/And the reflection of the moon/The wind could carry her recollection/Of a summer afternoon."

Successful double albums are hard to come by, usually self-indulgent and loaded with filler. Not so here. But while most of the tracks on Over Twenty are strong, a handful are interchangeable and an outside editor probably could have whittled the record down to a powerful 12-cut collection. Still, Collier is an impressive talent and it's usually better to have too much than too little.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com

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