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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 2, “Elliott,” a strummy tribute to Elliott Smith that echoes the late singer-songwriter’s sense of melancholy, if not his intricate fingerpicking. Vocalist and guitarist Jon Mosher mourns Smith’s self-destructiveness, singing, “Elliott, you’re hanging on to things I can’t understand/Elliott, you’re fading out.”
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MUSICAL MOTIVATION: In October 2005, Mosher drove eight hours to his sister’s wedding. Listening to Smith’s music on the way the 26-year-old Stanton Park resident wasn’t in a celebratory mood by the time he got to the Berkshires. He wondered why brilliant musicians are often so fucked up. Would I be able to write better songs, would I be able to have more interesting things to say, if I were as troubled as Elliott Smith? Mosher asked himself. Unable to sleep, he sat on a motel balcony and imagined an alter ego who’d live the bad times for him. That character, who fails to chat up an attractive woman and then passes out on the barroom floor, inhabits the song’s verses.
TRIBUTE BAND: While Mosher’s doppelgänger crashes and burns, his real life has had a happier trajectory. After the wedding, he wrote two guitar parts and taught one to his friend, Sam Mitchell. The two of them played “Elliott” at the now-defunct Staccato club last winter, impressing bassist Scott Remley, who asked to join the band. Now a quartet with drummer Chris Carney, the Roosevelt has toured the East Coast (and plays DC9 on Wednesday, Feb. 28). “This is why we are a band, this song,” says Mosher. “And it’s probably still among our favorite songs to play.”