The Olms is new, yet very experienced. Leaders Pete Yorn and J.D. King are players in the songwriting scene, and have been for some time. This new collaborated venture seemingly fits well and is doing well. Their debut record, The Olms, was released June 4 on Harvest Records and became the editor’s pick on iTunes the following week. The duo, with band in tow, has been running a quick jaunt of the states in preparation for something … bigger.
The Olms penetrated Chicago, June 13. Their “promotional tour,” as tagged by Yorn, was nearing its end. The spirited crowd at Matyrs’ seemed confused, even startled by the band as the show opened with the jaunty “On the Line.” It was soon realized that this was not just a Pete Yorn event, but a fusion of two media-minds displaying their informal and buoyant effort.
Strumming through the dependant cry of “What Can I Do” and a bubbly, timely cover of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time” (the Rolling Stones recently played three nights in Chicago), Yorn and King settled in for a run of The Olms’ debut record.
“Wanna Feel It” easily fulfilled the itch of the Yorn-solo fans with it’s melodic hook and singeing lyric, while “Bottle of Wine” shared a depressed glimpse of a love-strewn cowboy on a tear-led bender.
The sound in the small venue struggled to reach the sound booth at times–most notably King’s vocals and electric piano. Also, the discourteous howls and constant chatter from the back corner bar accumulated multiple “shhh’s” and even a few half-serious scowls from Yorn. Aside from these struggles, the vibe remained cordial and quite cheerful.
Gathering in 2011, Yorn and King took to each other instantly and created their first track and the album’s first single, “Twice as Nice,” in about 20 minutes. The song tags the essence of their collaboration by concentrating on modernizing ’60s folk-rock, a theme that, along with Western adventure and heartache, streams through the entire record.
Following a cover of The Troggs’ “Love is All Around,” The Olms triggered California-rock memories in “Another Day Dream” with its familiar harmonies and acoustic strumming that has one wonder, “Have I heard this before?”
The mesmerizing vocal style that King furnishes sustains the band and clearly detaches The Olms from being solely another Pete Yorn band. This is no more indisputable than in the dejected and murderous “She Said No.” The rumbling beat of the guitar structure combined with King’s deep-throated, haunted voice, coordinates with King’s personal style: a shiny-white leisure suit, a matching scarf wrapped around his neck, a haircut plucked from the 1967 version of John Kay (Steppenwolf), oversized, gaudy rings, and a pencil-thin mustache. Combined with his tall, shouldered structure and he is a dominant figure.
The set ended with “Someone Else’s Girl,” a song that resonates more as a Yorn solo attempt and less as a King/Yorn collaboration. Again, those Yorn fans in the crowd can’t complain about a lack of their hero, his genes are running thick in the DNA of The Olms. But, is he the star? Well, he’s the most well-known, sure, but the bewitching stylings of King aren’t anything to ignore.
If you missed an opportunity to see this quick tour by The Olms, keep your ears to the ground. A more in-depth tour is being proposed and may be announced soon.
On the Line
What Can I Do
The Last Time (Rolling Stones)
Wanna Feel It
Bottle of Wine
Twice as Nice
Only One Way
Rise and Shine
Love is All Around (The Troggs)
Another Day Dream
She Said No
Some Else’s Girl
Yes I’m Ready (Barbara Mason)