A few times a week, Gothamist publishes music reviews by our contributor Jeff Baum. The opinions below belong entirely to the author.

2005_12_artsearlies.jpgI had read about The Earlies a few months back, when Arctic Monkeys fever was sweeping through downtown Manhattan. Some had claimed that these guys would be the next "band of the month" that everyone would go balls out crazy for once the hype had moved on. They certainly have the set up and the back story to get peoples' attention. The band is composed of 8 members, with 6 from London and other two, (including the lead singer) hailing from West Texas. They are signed to an ambitious indie label, Secretly Canadian, who has recently been known to take chances on some unconventional success stories (think Antony and the Johnsons). On Friday, they were finishing up their first North American Tour ever at the Mercury Lounge. While the hype never really reached the point some had predicted, I was still excited to see how this band would look and sound live, especially after a few weeks on the road.

They all piled on stage a little after midnight. 8 members indeed, as promised. They looked and sounded like a hybrid of The Drive-By Truckers and Elbow, with the slightest bits of Sigur Ros and Arcade Fire dramatics thrown in at crucial points. It was interesting to see the Long-haired, Jack-Daniels-t-shirt clad frontman with the very British seeming backing band. Despite their various backgrounds, and the fact that they were just finishing up what was most likely the longest amount of consecutive time they had all ever spent together, they seemed to get along with each other nicely, playfully teasing each other at times between songs. Their musical influences blended just as well, creating an impressively unique, yet familiar sound.

A few of their songs were truly remarkable, including the showstopper ' Wayward Song', which seems destined to be the future background music to your favorite scene in your favorite movie. The most interesting dynamic of their set was when the sitar player from the opening band The High Dials came on and plinged along to a couple songs, effectively substituting the electronic sounds that appear on the album. It was a nice treat. The kind of surprise that makes a live show stand out from the recorded material.

All in all it was an excellent set. They are the type of band that could really open up on a larger stage. I hope the next time they get together and come through town they get the opportunity to fill a worthy space.

Have a listen to some of their songs at their Myspace page.