Live Review: The Novel Ideas at T.T. the Bear's


Material: Wistful yarns about falling in love harder than one expected, finding one’s way home and letting go of the past make up the raw materials for this folksy quintet from Brighton, MA. More heartfelt than the over-processed dross that passes for modern country yet more robust than the twee warbling of self-indulgent, hipster troubadours, the Novel Ideas fall in between, making backroad hash out of exploiting this neglected zone.

Musicianship: With a sound that meditates upon drinking in nature’s beauty and appreciating life’s quotidian pleasures, the band simmers low and slow, featuring plenty of sustained notes and warm tones. Although this doesn’t lend itself to fancy fretwork, a graceful unity makes their abilities obvious. With three lead singers, two male and one female, they play liberally with their unique vocal palette, making for stunning harmonies that brim with romantic autumnal color. While their delicate style finds beauty in fragility, robust bass and drums prevent their tender act from ever breaking.

Performance: Balancing their instruments, vocal levels remained a noteworthy feat, particularly considering the thumping from the club below. Guitarist Radin ably handled speaking duties yet only name checked the group twice, potentially negative considering this band's utilization of the headliner’s self- branded drums. Witnessing their passion exude from the stage was a treat, especially during faster and louder passages, though Grella’s all- black attire didn’t draw the eye. Their final song elevated the set via audience participation.

Summary: The Novel Ideas are following a promising path, offering an honest voice in a field where the art of unprocessed melodies has been all but forgotten. Having released one independent full-length record, they just need one more album’s worth of evolution to achieve something truly noteworthy. Once the right team executes a much-needed makeover and appropriately promotes them to a discriminating, niche audience, attention will surely follow.

The Players: Daniel Radin, guitars, vocals; Danny Hoshino, guitars, pedal steel, vocals; Sarah Grella, vocals; James Parkington, bass, vocals; Colin Fleming, drums.

– Andy Kaufmann