Bands to Watch 2009

Couch Forts

  • Will Shilling photo
By
From the Couch Forts edition

Start at bluegrass. Take a left turn at jazz. Cut through indie pop's experimental back alleys. No matter what, keep moving.

Couch Forts followed this route to some of the most bizarre, beautiful music ever to emerge from Columbus. Wielding a guitar, a fiddle, a banjo and a kick drum, the trio has been conjuring up stomping, swerving slivers of weirdo Americana since late 2007.

It all started when Capital music students Owen Kelley and Matt Opachick got together during a power outage for a candlelit jam session. "He came over, and it sort of clicked immediately," Kelley said.

When classmate Tyler Evans came into the fold a few months later, the sound made even more sense. They toyed with adding a drummer before deciding to flesh out the sound with dense harmony and active rhythm rather than brute force.

"I think the original intention for me was [for] it to be ultra simple - no drummer and no bass player," Kelley said. "[Not] because it's hard to find a drummer or bass player, but just trying to do something in the same realm as a power trio, keeping the instrumentation very simple but still coming up with a full sound."

The combination immediately struck a chord in Columbus. Couch Forts seemed to pop up in every corner of the local scene last year, from house shows to hipster hangouts to outdoor festivals. Several times, dance parties broke out.

Meanwhile, they dropped a self-titled EP that sounded like the bastard child of Animal Collective and The Books, with its frantic buildups, elegant comedowns and surrealistic lyrics about koalas and eggplants.

Last month Couch Forts toured for the first time, venturing to the East Coast and back. They hope to hit the road again come summertime, after they attend to school commitments.

In the meantime, the trio is preparing tunes for its first full-length album and continuing to play their spellbinding tunes for whoever will listen.