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Herd Murmurs is an ambitious local band with a new album
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BY RYAN MARR
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Herd Murmurs might be a new name on Fredericksburg All Ages fliers, but their hyper-orchestrated nerd pop has already burrowed into Fredericksburg's musical consciousness.
Take, for instance, a recent FAA show at Read All Over Books, where the audience refused to let the band (formerly known as the Like Whatevers) leave the stage without performing long-time concert staple "Friend of a Friend."
As the band started to pack up their instruments, the crowd burst into an impromptu version, swaying shoulder-to-shoulder like some "all-ages" take on an Irish pub singalong. To the surprise of everyone in the room, the crowd made it through the first verse without missing a word.
Herd Murmurs returned for an encore.
Formed as an experimental basement project in 2008 by University of Mary Washington music majors Sam Rives and Forrest Marquisee, the group quickly snowballed into a sprawling collective of local musicians.
"We had this crazy idea that we'd have a band and just bring whoever up on stage to play with us each night," Rives said.
That rotating-door aesthetic earned them a devoted following at UMW, where they headlined just about every campus event, playing stages from Ball Circle to The Underground.
Before long, they were all but crowned the campus band, a title that makes some members of the group wince and squirm from its frat-rock connotations.
Because, despite their early collegiate hijinks (they used to cover Hurricane Chris' "A Bay Bay"), the band's songs have always reflected the considerable depth of their musical background.
"One of the more unique things about this band is that everyone plays parts," multi-instrumentalist Jordan Bloom said. "We're not just playing to match a certain atmosphere or mood."
Flute melodies flit between the trilled notes of a violin. Rubber-burning punk tempos burst out of piano ballads. A cappella-style sing-alongs emerge from time signatures you're better off not trying to count. Or sing. The group's vocal harmonies--anchored by Kelsey Mayo's breathtaking soprano--are so flawlessly arranged and performed, it would take someone with either a great voice or an equally great lack of self-consciousness to join in.
What: Herd Murmurs CD Release Show with The Anatomy of Frank, Lilith and Danner Where: Eyeclopes, 620 Charlotte St., Fredericksburg When: Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. Cost: $5 Info: fredericksburgallages .com