The Organ Beats go on

Noelle LeBlanc emerges from Damone's power-pop shadow
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  August 18, 2010

 

At the risk of indulging in speculation, I'm going to presume that Noelle LeBlanc has experienced her fair share of the soul-extinguishing nihilism and corruption that live at the bottom of the music industry's digestive tract. But the former Damone songstress and architect of the Organ Beats prefers to discuss happy things. For example, the time she rescued turtle eggs while working as a forest ranger up in Vermont a few years ago, before returning to Massachusetts and forming her new band.

"I basically just ran a park with a bunch of kids," she explains while getting set up to rehearse in the second-loudest jam space this writer has ever encountered. "Slept in a tent. It was pretty wholesome. There were a lot of rules and stuff, but another ranger and I would go off and get tattoos and get drunk. It was fun."

There was also work to be done, turtles to save.

"One time, I was cleaning a stone beach, and I saw some dips in the rocks. That particular species of turtle would come there every summer. It had been their nesting spot for the past 10 years or something. We found a handful of eggs and saved them."

Back out of her own shell, she rounded out the Organ Beats with drummer and brother Danny and bassist Mike Colocouris. The Waltham power trio are slated to knock over T.T. the Bear's this Friday, but not before expounding some positivity while getting their rock faces on at the EMF practice-space building in Cambridge.

"We don't go out at all," says Colocouris. "We just hang out, eat English-muffin pizzas, and talk about current events and the ocean and horses. We talk about horses more than any sane human should. It's actually really fucking odd, but we're the most wholesome rock band ever, so we're able to get away with stuff like that. Children and moms alike should love us."

More wholesome than the Jonas Brothers?

"That's not wholesome," counters Danny LeBlanc. "That's a marketing tactic. That's a product of Disney."

Although his is an astute observation, I nonetheless doubt the Organ Beats' claim to the distinction of the world's most wholesome rock band. In fact, plenty of bands in our vicinity trump their echelon of clean moral decency. But the self-released Sleep When We Are Dead, cranked out during a three-week studio bender in Texas last year, is the better for its smattering of zest. It's also the better for using the type of mid-song interludes and sound effects that went out of fashion with cassette tapes. I think everybody misses those.

Noelle LeBlanc's distinctive euphonic wailing over songs just barely too heavy to qualify as power pop likely engenders more comparisons to her old band than the new one would prefer. But whereas Damone were a product of rock-and-roll professionals scripting accessible mall-rock designed to sell T-shirts at Warped Tour, Organ Beats tunes are labors of love. In fact, they're pretty much all love songs that Noelle's been meticulously forging for more than a decade. A few started out as the doting of a 14-year-old girl, but by now they're all testaments to how love, like rock and roll, is a many-splendored thing. It's just that not all of those splendors are the good kind. There are sugary moments ("Happy Birthday") and temperamental and absorbing phases (the title track). And sometimes, love is actually sort of creepy ("The Movie").

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  Topics: Music Features , Noelle LeBlanc, T.T. The Bear's Place, T.T. The Bear's Place,  More more >
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