The Organ, a quintet of young woman from the musical hotspot of Vancouver, B.C. are hotly tipped as one of the next big things, and have already snagged the cover of Exclaim, Canada's predominant indie music magazine. Based on their Saturday show, it's well deserved.

Their opening act, Montreal band Marlowe, has enjoyed critical kudos as well, for the dreamy, jammy Radiohead-on-downers music as well, but damned if I can hear why. Perhaps vocalist Alex Olson was having an off night, but her drawn-out vowels frequently sounded flat. Guitarist Joseph Donovan also plays in well-regarded Montreal pop combo the Dears, but all the digital delay and reverb in the world failed to disguise the fact that he played something like four notes per minute (I joke ... sort of). There just was not enough going on to hold my interest, though there was sporadic moments of beauty.

No such danger from the headliners. I missed the chance to see Julie Doiron perform at the SAW Gallery to see the Organ, despite some trepidation at the thought of viewing a band whose debut LP, 'Grab that Gun' has just been co-released, along with Mint Records, on 606, a label co-owned by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback.

It was obvious, however, from the first seconds of The Organ's performance that the show would be a memorable one.

Yes, three-fifths of the group have a stage presence not unlike that of store mannequins; bassist Ashley Webber played with eyes closed, in a world of her own, Organist Jenny Smyth occasionally flipped her hair out of her eyes to glance at the audience, and as far as I can tell the only moving part of guitarist Debora Cohen is her hands (and yes, that includes her eyelids — if she blinked, I didn't notice). That left drummer Shelby Stocks, who thumped her traps with vigour, to show a little life.

Lead singer Katie Sketch has a shy stage persona as well, cradling her microphone when she wasn't singing — but what singing!

All is forgiven when you hear Sketch's deadpan, crystal-clear lament, which has already garnered comparisons to the vocals of Joy Division's Ian Curtis.

The band has been lumped in with new wave groups like Interpol with good reason. The band's morbid outlook is obviously influenced by groups like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure. Fortunately, the group has the songwriting nous to pull off numbers with titles like 'A Sudden Death' and '"No One Has Ever Looked So Dead' without inviting mockery.

The well-attended show at Zaphod's was an entrancing one, and with a little more musicianship, there's no reason they shouldn't enjoy the same profile as groups like the aforementioned Interpol and the Rapture.

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Commenting On: Zaphod's, Ottawa, 19/6/2004 - Organ with Marlowe

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