“Destroyer” Inspires an Indestructible Love
By Elaine Teng ’12, Editor-In-Chief
We all have that one special band, the one that only we, and perhaps a few friends, know, the one without the glamour and the videos, the one you can go see in some little café in L.A. or on the street in New York. They’re so great that they deserve to be famous, we all say — but do we really want them to be? Somehow, in a way that speaks more about the human condition that I care to dwell on at this moment, the fame makes us like them a little less, no longer our little secret.

Oak and Gorski, releasing their fourth album next week, is that band for me. I first encountered the duo from Southern California, Ken Oak on cello and lead vocals and Ed Gorski on guitar and back-up, at the College’s Night Market my freshman year, and have since seen them again back home in L.A. I was immediately swept away by the beauty of their lyrics, the emotional quality of Oak’s voice, steady yet sensitive, and the originality of their sound. Together, the two have taken cello rock to an entirely different level, blending the classical melancholy of the cello with the soulful strings of the guitar to produce music that is simultaneously haunting and catchy.

Their latest effort, “Love Destroyer,” is a great addition to their repertoire, though perhaps not quite as memorable as some of their earlier songs. The five songs — it is an EP and not a full-blown album — showcase the variety of their sound, going from the catchy, rhythmic “Love Destroyer” that you can’t help but bounce along to, to the pensive, wistful “Burn the Bridge,” my favorite off of the album that really highlights the emotional depth the cello-guitar combination can reach. In a song describing a troubled relationship turning the corner for another chance, Oak’s cello drives home the pain and heartache of their past while Gorski’s guitar carries through an underlying sense of hope and promise for the future where “I’ll mean what I say / When we weather the storm, we’ll still be okay. This time around I won’t burn the bridge to stay warm.”

“Love Destroyer” marks the first time that Gorski’s voice is also featured prominently. While before he mostly harmonized and sang back-up, the two have really made an effort to increase his mike time, a change that, for the most part, strengthens their music by providing a lighter, sweeter contrast to Oak’s dark, soulful voice.

So while I hope that Oak and Gorski will always stay my special band, their music is simply too original, moving and sweet not to share. “Love Destroyer” is a good place to start, though I still find their second album “Vienna to Venice” to be their best. Indie rock at heart, Oak and Gorski spans across a variety of genres, reinventing a classical instrument and adding a splash of folk and country, to produce a sound that is at once calming yet stirring, tranquil yet poignant, tugging at heartstrings with the buried anguish, careful optimism and guarded hope awakened by a single bow stroke.

Issue 11, Submitted 2010-12-08 21:07:50