The Mary Janes play Friday night at Babe's 

Melody with an Edge

The Mary Janes may be relatively unknown in this neck of the woods, but the group deserves to be a draw at Babe's on Friday, Mar. 24, if the band's CD "Record No. 1" and its recent "Winter 2000" tell an accurate musical tale. Fronted by the writing and light but evocative voice of Janas Hoyt, the Indianapolis-based band's brand of song is melodic and moody. This approach can come across as wispy "art rock" and often screams pretension, but the Mary Janes' sound has enough garage edge that the music is vital and often compelling. "Shooting Star" starts as a quiet ballad, but erupts into a beautifully layered love song. "Part of Me" rings with a restrained but persistent groove that also eventually explodes. "I Never Felt Better" captures a beefed-up folk-rock rhythm that witnesses the reason Hoyt and the band have played gigs from Lilith Fair to Austin's South By Southwest to the Tin Angel in Philadelphia. "Final Days" closes the CD with an urgent look at love that's both sad and gorgeous. Hoyt's guitar is sparse throughout "No. 1," but she has a rocker's soul. A violin often pushes her with a sinewy urgency, and the rhythm section drives the band through its shifting arrangements. Piano, organ and harmonica are also featured in the Mary Janes' sound.

John Mellencamp used Hoyt on his most recent release and at times songs such as "Sigh to Signal" convey a Mellencamp feel. The Mary Janes, however, is a more diverse and musically interesting unit even if it has no platinum albums to hang on the wall. Touring for the past year throughout the Midwest and on the East Coast, picking up positive notices in support of "Record No. 1," the band's lush mix of carefully constructed drama holds promise. The Mary Janes should prove a good complement to Dirtball at Babe's on Friday. Doors open at 8 p.m. and admission is $5. Call 355-9330 for

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