The Strange Familiar
Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY
October 2, 2013
Concert Review: The Strange Familiar at Rockwood Music Hall
The band’s story sounds almost like a fairytale. A mid-western husband and wife, singer/songwriter tandem writing and performing music together while concurrently starting a family. Smells like a sitcom. Fortunately though for the smattering of guests at Rockwood Music Hall on Wednesday night, the band and its musicians are all too real. The Strange Familiar is an Ohio-based four piece that collaborated as far back as 2006, but today it seems, the band is finally hitting their stride.
Even if the group’s name doesn’t necessarily ring a bell, you’re likely to have heard their music before in some fashion. Ashlee Simpson’s version of “Invisible” was written by husband and wife Jeff Andrea and Kira Leyden, who double as The Strange Familiar’s lead guitarist and vocalist. And your teenage daughter, or your adult friend unlikely to admit it, has heard tracks from the band like “Redemption” and “Shelter” on television shows ABC Family’s ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and the CW’s ‘The Vampire Diaries.’
As The Strange Familiar continues to put the finishing touches on their full length album due in early 2014, the band was in town celebrating the release of a brand new EP titled “Surrender,” out digitally on 10/8. Their seven song, 40 minute set was a showcase of sorts for what’s to come featuring Leyden alternating between playing the keys and standing behind her mic stand. As the band began, Leyden’s beautiful voice was a revelation- her pipes yielding wonderful range as she soulfully hit each of her intended notes with ease. Each song was both slow and precise, from the opener “Unwanted” to the show’s catchy highlight, “Gone.” It’s easy to see how the group got linked up with so many teen dramas- their music lends itself perfectly to the dark side of angst so typically equated with the genre, especially on tracks like “Expect to You” and “Where I Belong.”
The band closed their performance with title track “Surrender,” dedicated to Leyden’s recently deceased grandfather and although brief, the performance showed off The Strange Familiar’s ability to match their live performance to their studio sounds. Led by the masterful singing of Leyden, the group deserves a larger audience to marvel at their talents. And hopefully the release of their upcoming full length effort, will be the next step in getting them there.
- Jane Van Arsdale