Review – Georgie James, Gary B & the Notions @ the Ottobar, Baltimore MD

While Stars were busy delivering their highly dramatized indie pop in downtown to a packed house at Sonar, the Ottobar crowd was relatively light for DC-based Georgie James’ alternate approach to the genre.

But given the quality of Georgie James’ performance and music, there should have been a more equal split between the two.

Missing the Courtesy Line, I walked in for second openers Gary B & the Notions’ hook-laden, retro-brand of pop rock. Very much sounding like Elvis Costello and even at times the Beach Boys, the songs are short and sweet and the Notions are tight as a sailor’s knot. Well-rehearsed and veteran performers, they make some really catchy music. The bassist (ferocious, love the technique) and guitarist seemed to really have some chops, able to veer songs easily into the realm of punk. The only downside was that songs tended to be a little too similar. But I have a feeling that isn’t for lack of diverse material in Gary’s huge back-catalog, but rather a targeting of the set list to make the perfect opening set for Georgie James.

Georgie James is one of three gems formed after the amicable dissolution of DC’s post-punk standard bearers (and personal faves) Q And Not U. Drummer John Davis took up vocals and guitar along with established singer/songwriter Laura Burhenn doing vocals and keys. The project, like the other 2, are logical extensions from Q And Not U. Georgie James explores the poppier side of things, sugar-coating the angular, twitchy guitar riffs from Q And Not U with copious amounts of harmonized male-female vocals and pop sensibility. Their sound is essentially an updated take on the ultra-sweet pop of the 50s-60s.

And resulting nougat of indie-pop goodness is nearly irresistible.

The guys were really on point last night, hot on the heels of some glowing SXSW press. Davis rained some laser-precision riffs down on the eager crowd, showcasing musical themes from his old band in both his guitar work and song structure/bridging.

Burhenn’s vocals were lush and lovely. They add a highly textured, multi-layered facet to the sound (especially when harmonizing with Davis’). Set highlights included “Need Your Needs,” “Places” and covers of Otis Redding and the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year.” Drummer James Canty (ex-Nation of Ulysses & Ted Leo/Pharmacist) did not disappoint with his stylish and tight work. Bassist Michael Cotterman is competent but bass lines aren’t really the focus of GJ’s repertoire so nothing really exciting happening there.

The only major critique for the airtight performance was the low-level of the vocals and keys in the mix. A predictably great show from one of DC’s premiere artists; I don’t need to tell you to keep your eye on them.

Photo credit Melissa Lawson, WashDC May 2007

Here are a few tracks from GJ and Gary B to whet your appetite. I whole-heartedly recommend you pick up GJ’s debut album from last year, Places. It doesn’t disappoint.

Georgie James – “Need Your Needs”

Georgie James – “Cheap Champagne”

Georgie James – “More Lights”

Gary B & the Notions – “Lori”

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2 Responses to “Review – Georgie James, Gary B & the Notions @ the Ottobar, Baltimore MD”

  1. Omar says:

    Glad to see some Georgie James appreciation going around. I did an in-studio with them yesterday. You can find that here:


  2. Ron says:

    Great site. I will bookmark for my sons to view as well!!!t

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