Gentleman Auction House | The Rules Were Handed Down (s/r)

cd_gah_smWith two drummers, a flute, horns, keyboards, three guitars, just about every member supplying percussion and vocals, the sound the band produces easily becomes that of a small orchestra, sonically shattering those other quiet, more down-to-earth indie bands.

 

In its quest to go big or go home, Gentleman Auction House has decided to go the former route. A number of key ingredients have made the young St. Louis band stay afloat in a large, overwhelming sea of indie-rock mediocrity. The obvious being the number of members the band employs, topping out at a strong seven. With two drummers, a flute, horns, keyboards, three guitars, just about every member supplying percussion and vocals, the sound the band produces easily becomes that of a small orchestra, sonically shattering those other quiet, more down-to-earth indie bands. Along with an amazing work ethic, impressive live show, not to mention sharp dress, Gentleman Auction House seems to do everything right. With their first release, The Rules Were Handed Down, they show us that all the hard work is finally paying off.

cd_gahI wouldn't normally mention these things, but for a self-release, just about everything within this debut is remarkable. The packaging is top-notch, the artwork is well thought out. More importantly, the songs stand on their own as well-crafted pieces. Recorded at the band's home studio and engineered and produced by the band members themselves, the sound is charmingly lo-fi yet somehow keeps it head above water just enough to be tasteful. And while this quality can often come off as a façade of indie credibility, it is rationalized as a complimentary counterpart.

The album opens with the title track, quietly and distinct before blowing up with the full band, taking on a new life and truly starting the album off right. "A Hospital or Heaven" stands out as the band's could-be single, delivering just the right amount of sugar on top of the tortured vocals of Eric Enger. Oh, and that horn line will stick in your head for days. "Blissful Things Go" quickly became a personal favorite. Accompanied with beautiful strings and playful piano, the song reaches an epic, movie-like feel on its chorus, easily making eyes tear up (this is your queue, emo kid) with how stunning the song actually is.

A different version of "Our Angry Town Runs Them Out" helps to separate from the band's live show, giving them permission to be as quiet or loud as they see fit. Proving that although seven people may be behind the idea, when unified, a single theme can come across with unique precision. It was an obvious gamble that paid off well.

The next evident step for Gentleman Auction House is to get signed and become the next big thing out St. Louis. Think about it: it might be a nice change to have a decent band get recognized for once instead of a dreadful screamo act, a carbon-copy rapper, or mechanical pop punk group. So come on, labels, let the bidding begin. A | Chris Schott

RIYL: Bright Eyes, Mates of State, Headlights

Photo by Natalee Cayton

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