When the Whole Sick Crew disintegrated last year soon after playing a set at the June RFT
Music Showcase, the local scene lost one of its most original acts, a band tagged with (and often burdened by) a "pirate rock" label. Thankfully, one-half of the <\#213>Crewdrummer Robby Laptad, fiddler Beth Dill and vocalist/guitarist Brien Seylesurfaced this year in the sextet Rats and People, a collective that's equally fond of innovation and unorthodox instrumentation. The demos posted on their MySpace page (www.myspace.com/ratsandpeople
) reveal a group enamored of the shambling indie-rock of the Decemberists/Belle & Sebastian/Neutral Milk Hotel persuasion. Xylophone and accordion tussle with a trumpet and Dill's violin for superiority, as vocalist Seyle expertly sings macabre lyrics about bygone eras. Rats and People's buzz-worthy gigs have already drawn nothing but raves; be sure to catch <\#213>em at one of their frequent Way Out Club shows.