Avalon Landing battling pop stigma

Josh Rabenold describes the room in which he currently sits as his band’s embassy.

Taking in The Beat coffeehouse on a Wednesday evening, the Avalon Landing singer-pianist points to a table by the door where the group first distributed their demo. They’ve performed acoustically here on numerous occasions, adjacent to crates of vinyl and concert lithographs, and above the bar, there’s a clipping from a story on the band pinned to the wall.

“This building itself was a catalyst for so many things for us,” Rabenold says, flanked by one of his bandmates, singer-guitarist Mike Vargovich.

And yet, this district hasn’t been easy for these Buffalo transplants to crack.

With Beauty Bar and The Griffin across the street, the husk of the Bunkhouse a few blocks down the road, this is the heart of the Vegas indie rock community.

But with their earnest-sounding songs, populist appeal and obvious commercial potential, Avalon Landing has never really fit in with that crowd.

“It just seemed like we had this stigma on us as this pop band who came to town and thought they were going to be this great big thing,” Vargovich says.

“There’s still that stigma to our name,” Rabenold adds. “People think we’re like some supersoft, acoustic, music-for-hand-holding type of thing. We’re just writing things that come naturally to us. It’s what we want to write. It’s not, ‘Well, OK, how can we write a hit song?’ ”

Of course, pretty much all the same things were also said about Imagine Dragons when they were on the come-up, playing downtown venues where they were square pegs as well.

Like that band, Avalon Landing has a chance at mainstream cross-over success with plenty of radio-ready tunes.

On Tuesday they’re releasing what they consider to be their official record, “Reside” (they did put out a collection of older songs in 2011, “Demos, Dead Ends &Do Overs”).

It’s an album of ardently sincere, heart-on-the-sleeve piano pop, with sighing ballads and ringing stadium rock flush with three-part harmonies and swelling choruses.

The album was recorded in a house where some of the band members reside, and it has a lived-in feel to it, which prevents it from coming across as overly polished despite its bright pop sheen.

Who knows where the record will take the band, which is rounded out by guitarist-singer Clayton Cobb, bassist Danny Jacobellis and drummer John Lloyd.

If nowhere else, it’s taken them here.

“It definitely feels like a culmination of our moving here,” Rabenold says of “Reside.” “Regardless of what people think of it, this is what we are.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.

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