Live review: Ours, The Milestone (6/4/2013)

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Ours
The Milestone Club
June 4, 2013

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12 years. That's how long I've listened to Ours. I was first introduced to the band in 2001 after the release of Distorted Lullabies, their debut album on major label Dreamworks. "Sometimes" was the big single, yet it seemed short lived on the radio. Shortly afterward there was Precious, the group's sophomore Dreamworks effort, and then 2008's Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy), produced by Rick Rubin.

The band's upcoming disc, Ballet the Boxer 1 (to be released on June 11), is the latest in the Ours saga, fronted by lead singer Jimmy Gnecco. Gnecco, a New Jersey native influenced by the late Jeff Buckley and many many others, can go from light delicate singing to shrill screams in mere seconds. And that wide vocal spectrum doesn't stray too far from the core of his music. It's melodic, at times sullen, and layered with rock that fluctuates between building up and spiraling down.

During Ours' show at Milestone, the band played almost all the tracks from Ballet, but threw some older tracks into the set too. The performance kicked off with a newbie, "Pretty Pain." There's something about Gnecco singing about redemption that just makes you want to scream out "hallelujah!" It was strong, with every member of the six-piece adding a special touch. Other new tracks like "Devil" and "Coming for You," weigh in with the same rock rage fused with melodic strands.

But on "Been Down," there's something else going on entirely. Gnecco chats for a bit about his apprehensiveness towards the guitar, the band's longtime mission to sing from their hearts, and how he never wanted an "overnight career" in the music biz. When introducing the new number, he describes it as taking the group "back to '70s porn" and says it's got some "sluttiness." Taking a turn towards soul and Motown, it slows down replacing the band's typical sullenness with a dabble of sultry. It was impressive to hear a song crafted so differently from what we've come to know as Ours.

Older tracks in the set included "Here is the Light," "Sometimes," "Murder" and "God Only Wants You." At some point in the night, Gnecco took a long pause to introduce everyone in the band and he shared the backstory on how they met. It was an intimate setting and the room could best be described as partially full - enough to make you sweat, but not enough to make you pass out. Gnecco's vocals at times sounded a little strained and tired. This man has done a lot of screaming in his day, but we sure hope he never stops.

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