By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
So imagine my ambivalence when I discovered during my obligatory extensive research (Google!) that Yorba Linda’s the Steelwells had a blog (thesteelwells.blogspot.com). What if they came across as being totally lame? Could I possibly remain objective? This conflicted feeling only grew upon seeing their most recent post: “The Steelwells Top 25 Albums.” On one hand, what great insight into the band and their music! On the other hand, what if something like August and Everything After sneaked into the list? Fair or not, my opinion would be irrevocably altered.
Thankfully, the five guys are into some pretty cool tunes, with no Counting Crows in sight—Elvis Costello, Iron & Wine, Wilco, Descendents . . . enough to easily overlook the John Mayer picks. Listening to their music, I heard traces of these influences, but the Steelwells aren’t slavishly devoted to them, either. The elliptical lyrics in songs such as “Boxes” (“I sleep in a square little hole every night when I go to bed/Circle girl and Triangle man are kicking boxes in my head”) bring to mind Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco, but the delivery is more slyly detached than Tweedy-esque. The powerful torch song “Ghosts” shows considerable feeling throughout, with a frustrated longing simmering to a passionate outburst from singer Joey Winter, as the rest of the band follow him closely on each emotional step.
Yorba Linda has a spotty history when it comes to its exports (Richard Nixon, the actress who played Topanga on Boy Meets World), but the Steelwells look to be one of the area’s better cultural contributions.
The Steelwells play with Parker Macy Blues, Davis Fetter of Venus Infers, and Danny Jara at eVocal, 814 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-4548; www.evocal.com. Fri., 7 p.m. Free.
Visit the Steelwells online at www.myspace.com/thesteelwells.