Our Lady of the Highway
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Our Lady of the Highway

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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Our Lady of the Highway makes pretty American music..."

“Our Lady of the Highway makes pretty American music about heartbreak, local
bars and loneliness. The veteran Oakland quintet's music is shabbily romantic and
effortless yet completely engrossing. Heartfelt and unpretentious without stooping
to self-conscious hokeyness, the songs evoke Pink Moon-era Nick Drake as well as
the late, great Townes Van Zandt. Equal parts Hank Williams and Paul Westerberg,
lead singer and songwriter Dominic East comes off like a perfectly lovable
populist, the kind of guy you'd love to get drunk with on some snowy night in your
hometown. The band was complimentary and understated, ensuring that the focus
fell squarely on East's vocals and the beautifully simple lyrics about girls and going
out. Friday night at Edinburgh Castle was the second time I've seen Our Lady of
the Highway live and both times I've been completely blown away. I have no idea
why these guys aren't more well known - I'm not sure that anyone could fail to
connect to their music.”
-Jon Rooney
- Blue Mag

"end-of-summer house party"

"There may be a million perfect bands for an end-of-summer house party, but last Saturday night, as the sun was setting over Bernal Heights and the keg of Oly was hitting its stride, there wasn't a better thing going than locals Our Lady of the Highway. Something in the bracing waltzes and melancholy lilt of their country-washed songs was meant to be played against the backdrop of thorny blackberry branches creeping over the wooden deck while a neighbor's infant chubette smiled at no one in particular. And it seems like ages since I've seen a singer like OLOTH's Dominic East. Coming off entirely un-self-conscious, belting it out and completely at home with his tweaky little dances, I will dare say there was something Michael Stipe-ish about that man. And that would be Stipe if he had a grown-out mohawk, and long before he was spied busting loose to Sister Goldenhair" on the jukebox at the Expansion. Apparently, the band's show the following night at Doc's Clock was just as fun-tacular..."
-Beth Lisick - SF Bay Guardian

"Coming Apart"

"It is a testament to my affection for Oakland rock band Our Lady of the Highway -- and a misguided sense of entitlement regarding my favorite songs of theirs, "Coming Apart" -- that simple matters of vocal phrasing initially disturb and dismay me so.

"Coming Apart" would appear to tell the sordid, sorrowful tale of a baleful gentleman in love with a lesbian. Delivered by frontman Dominic East in his yearning, wide-eyed, almost ecstatically melancholy voice, it's a catalogue of witty, self-deprecating bons mots -- Find me a girlfriend/And buy me a drink/But not in that order -- set to a delicate barroom waltz, mixing the rustic woe of early R.E.M. with the beer-soaked masochism of American Music Club. That's right: woe mixed with masochism. But despite unloading one of the more awwwwww-worthy closing lines in recent memory (And you still like boys/In most of my dreams), Dominic sings it all giddily, even when he moans the chorus: I think I'm co-ming a-part at the seams.

But now, as recorded on the band's new album, Beauty Won't Save Us This Year, it's I think I'm comingapart at the seams. He runs the coming apart together for some reason. It's almost violently jarring, like walking into your apartment to find all the furniture rearranged.

I have since calmed down and warmed up to this permutation -- fans and bandmates of Dominic should expect such surprises. "I'm sure that song, because we've played it so much, has probably been victim of my whimsical phrasing," he admits.

"Whimsical" is the optimum word to describe Dominic's onstage behavior. His philosophy can perhaps best be summed up by the simultaneous joy and pain inherent in the Gary Stewart song title "She's Acting Single (I'm Drinking Doubles)." Watching Our Lady of the Highway throw down on a recent Sunday night at SF's tiny, familial, largely sit-down joint the Rite Spot, it takes a while to adjust. The vast majority of their tunes are sad-sack Pining for My Lady Friend odes, sometimes wistful (There's a side of me that still wants to thrill you), sometimes casually violent (There's a side of me that might want to kill you). Regardless, Dominic's facial expressions are downright goofy, exaggerated to almost John Belushi extremes, which he complements, between plaintive guitar strums, with jittery dance moves. His lyrics and the demeanor could hardly be more at odds. Whether calculated or unconscious, it's still off-putting and nerve-racking in that classic Michael Stipe-ian way.

"It's the dancing," Dominic says of the R.E.M. comparisons. "It's the gawkiness. It used to be a haircut, but I think now it's just the dancing. Make sure that somebody gets the dancing part. Dancing's very important to me."

But it's not just gawkiness that triggers such favorable comparisons -- Our Lady's profound excellence helps too. (As does bassist and guitarist Andrew Gerhan, an absolute dead ringer for Mike Mills both in look and job description.) Fans of quiet but devastating strummy Americana should go nuts for this stuff, and as it happens these guys are looking for someone to go nuts real soon, because they ain't got a label. "Well, we don't have one yet," Andrew says. "That's the short answer." He thinks for a second. "That's probably the short answer and the long answer."

So the band is hawking Beauty Won't Save Us This Year (the follow-up to 2004's About Leaving) to the Matadors and Sub Pops and Badmans of the world, and keeping themselves busy in the interim by ... finishing off another album, titled Kill You with Numbers. They're prolific, too -- just another reason why these dudes deserve a Rogue Wave-like discovery and ascendancy. "The songs were ready, you know?" Andrew reasons, holed up in the band's rehearsal space at Soundwave Studios, Oakland's three-story behemoth of a local band dormitory. "They can suffer if you don't record them as soon as they're ready to be recorded."

One such evidently suffering song is "Go Home," on which Dominic, perhaps pining for his salad days back in upstate New York, announces mournfully that If it's possible/I've completely wasted/Thirteen years in a city that I might end up hating/And all I really wanna do is go home. Of course, like everything else, he sings this with a slap-happy Looney Tunes grin on his face. Never mind. Find him a label, and buy him a drink. But not in that order."
-Rob Harvilla - East Bay Express

"very recommended"

"There are certain local bands that I seem to champion. It's not that I feel a particular loyalty to my "scene", it's because I honestly believe that these bands are making music of immense quality and deserve recognition...(such as) the increasingly prolific Our Lady of the Highway. For those of you that read Bars & Guitars regularly you've already heard me rave about About Leaving and the sophomore follow up Beauty Won't Save Us This Year. 2006 finds OLOTH getting ready to head to the East Coast for some high profile gigs in New York and Philadelphia to support their most recent release Kill You With Numbers. The new record shows a clear development of the band's sound as they expand their sonic palette further with keyboards, electronics, and atmospheric effects. But at their heart these songs remain distilled essences of Dominic East's heart. As always the lyric content is decidedly broken. Broken in the sense of the heart, damaged in the sense of how we remain after the tears have fallen. East's lyrics are served well by the band's expanded sound, though there always remains the suspicion that ultimately these songs beg for just his voice and guitar. The nice thing is the way the band (it's core of East and guitarist Andy Gerhan now together for over 10 years) is so effortlessly complimentary to East's voice and words and vice versa. While this is probably much more of an "indie" rock record than their past efforts, the thread of alt-country remains in the touches of violin, harmonica, and the gentle acoustic numbers. In listening to Kill You With Numbers I've found that I'm hearing the sound of a band hitting its stride. After defining themselves with the gentle heartbroken melancholy of About Leaving, then over reaching a tad in trying to break the curse of the sophomore record with Beauty Won't Save Us This Year, Our Lady of the Highway has expertly crafted an album that lands squarely in between those records. Kill You With Numbers is a mature, heartfelt set of songs that comfortably rock 'n weep. Very recommended."
-Pete Funk - Bars & Guitars


Kill You With Numbers - 2006
Beauty Won't Save Us This Year - 2005
About Leaving - 2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


Dominic East, the leader of San Francisco’s Our Lady of the Highway is a great polarizer. People either love or hate the way his voice refuses to sit politely in the mix as he sings about ending, parting, and dancing with words that are not always friendly. Out of East’s mouth songs become a hunt for treasured details that twist the knife a little more – you revel in each detail with him as sadness becomes a sideways joy.

A short and distinguished list of songwriters can land this trick; Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) can do it and so can Morrissey. The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle can as well. Add Dominic East to the list; he’s made it his own. Even people who don’t listen to the lyrics always remember the singer (and sometimes just for the reckless happiness with which the band delivers the songs). This doesn’t make for a safe music, but accompanied by Mie Araki (drums/percussion/keyboards) and Andrew Gerhan (bass/electric guitar) Our Lady of the Highway makes insistent, layered and emotional rock & roll.

“Kill You with Numbers” - Our Lady of the Highway’s third full length, is their best yet. The songs are built upon taut acoustic guitars, layered with frozen synthesizers and suddenly explode in a hornet’s nest of electric guitar stabs. Opener “Go Home” dives right into the cold water with a transplant to the big city alone and suddenly feeling the coldness of his adopted streets. Single “I Get the Sense” is a determined and menacing anthem laden with sarcasm and threats that may or may not be empty, and finale “Mercy”, a duet with Lisa, wife of Rogue Wave front man Zach, is a plea as cool and ultimately unhinged as Bowie’s “Heroes”. These numbers are sure to kill.