There is a scene in Mel Brooks’ wonderul satire, “Spaceballs,” where Rick Moranis reveals to Bill Pullman just how they’re related.
“I am,” he says gleefully, “Your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.”
The way I learned about The Beautiful Losers was slightly more complex, involving my cousin, his parents, one heck of a loaned CD and emails with the band’s amazingly gregarious co-founder, Brett Boyd. But it was a good thing I did.
TBL, which is based in Tokyo and San Francisco – never a bad thing – plays what they call “electro-acoustic-Indian-alternative-rock.” It’s an accurate, if long-winded, description. When I saw them earlier tonight, the band used a mix of electric and acoustic instruments to create a sound richer and thicker than an Oakland gangster’s girlfriend’s booty.
There were layers, and then the layers had layers, but each came through distinctly enough so you could focus on just one, if you wanted. I might be misremembering, but TBL’s very tall drummer spent a good chunk of the night on the dumbek, a Middle Eastern drum, setting up a clear and crisp backbeat. And the singer/guitarist Raj Ramayya went through more guitar changes than I’ve ever seen at a live show, which provided nothing if not depth in the six-string field.
Also, Raj has a voice with serious range, with timing that can one minute inject a wry sense of humor into the lyrics, the next convey a passion-filled or broken heart. He sings so naturally, it’s more like listening to an old friend tell a story than anything else.
Better still, unlike some alt-rock outifts whose lyrics are more confusing than a bad Mel Brooks line, TBL’s words are witty yet unimpeded by their own verbosity. (Also, unlike me.)
Making predictions is a risky venture, but I strongly recommend checking out TBL, live if you can. You won’t be disappointed, and these guys are going to be big.