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Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

Marvelous Things

Tyler, Texas’ Eisley make me feel old. If I were, say, 10 years younger, I’m sure I’d be a moony-eyed fanboy for any one of the three DuPree sisters, with their big sad eyes, sweet vocals and just-the-right-side-of-emo pop songs. They’re like the indie rock Corrs or something… But as it is, I will say they’re every bit as talented as they are adorable, and hope that keeps me out of dirty old man territory.

I really didn’t know what sort of a turn-out to expect for their first headlining show here (a fact Sherri repeated many times) – the band has gotten approximately zero press up here, I don’t think the album has gotten a domestic release and even though you’d expect their fanbase to number largely teenage girls, they were playing a 19+ venue on a Wednesday night. A recipe for disaster? They’ve actually been through town trice before opening much larger shows (Coldplay, Snow Patrol and New Found Glory) but I don’t know how much of a local fanbase of their own those shows would have translated into. In their tour diary, the band says they would have been ecstatic if 200-250 people (half capacity) showed up. As it turned out, they were about bang on. Not only was the crowd a respectable size, they seemed to be genuine hardcore fans, requesting older non-album material and cheering when they got them.

Me, I only really knew the stuff from Room Noises. It had taken me a little time to chisel through the glossy production on Room Noises, but after that I was quite pleased about how much depth there was in the music. This was far more sophisticated than you might expect from so young a band. If I had one complaint, however, it was that it was a little too mid-tempo and measured. So it was gratifying to find that live, they were a good deal louder and willing to colour outside the lines a bit. While Sheri and Stacy’s vocals and harmonies were still impeccable, the instrumentation had an energy that was sorely lacking from the album versions and really gave everything some extra punch. They also had more energy onstage than I’d been led to believe (except for Stacy, who didn’t get up from her Rhodes). They weren’t, like, KISS or anything, but they seemed pretty comfortable and into it up there.

Last night’s show reinforced my opinion that this band is capable of doing some great things. My fear is that Reprise would rather see them churn out safer, less ambitious soundtrack-ready material rather than realize their full creative potential and won’t encourage them to wander farther afield. I hope I’m wrong, but my lack of faith in the major label A&R is a matter of public record. But one thing that the majors are apparently good for is guitars and merch. They were travelling with some seriously nice equipment and the merch area at Lee’s Palace was practically turned into a little Eisley boutique with a full range of t-shirts, posters and gewgaws. No copies of the independent EPs, of course. I know I should have grabbed those in Austin…

The openers on this tour were fellow Texans Pilotdrift and Ohio’s Lovedrug. The former were pretty interesting, offering up a proggy-pop sound that ranged from folkier numbers to more rocked out ones, occasionally flirting with Buckley-esque over-emoting. On the whole, however, I enjoyed their stuff – it was considerably more compelling than I’d expected. Oh, and they get full points for unironic use of the keytar. Lovedrug, on the other hand, did nothing for me. I’ve never really listened to emo rock but they’re pretty much what I figure it sounds like. Incredibly earnest tunes that reminded of a heavier Coldplay. At points, I forgot why I was at the show and wondered what on earth I was doing listening to this stuff. They seemed to have their disciples, however, as most of the people around me seemed to be there to see Lovedrug more than the headliners. Each opener only played for around 35 minutes – both acts had huge stage setups that required a lot of set up and tear down time. Piccies tomorrow or later tonight.

Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam and Calexico’s Joey Burns tell Billboard about their In The Reins project, recorded last year and due for release on September 20. This has the potential to be ridiculously good, it’s a shame that it’s only an EP (though a 7-song one). The ensuing tour, which will feature individual sets by both Iron & Wine and Calexico as well as a collaborative one, will be ridiculously good.

The Toronto Star previews Keren Ann’s two shows this weekend – one at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival and one at the Olympic Island concert. Now that’s a lady with crossover appeal.

Another upcoming week in shows over at Torontoist.

Forbes advises their audience of millionaire playboys of just how much it would cost them to become crime-fighters a la Batman. Answer? Not actually as much as you’d think.

I was planning on doing a round-up post of the promo stuff I’ve been getting in the mail, but am going to have to put that off a bit as I got almost a dozen records in the mail yesterday, 95% of it stuff I’ve never heard of (the other 5% being Moby… and I got an 8×10 glossy as well!). Maybe I’ll take a weekend next month and just power through them, or maybe I’ll set up a dedicated reviews page. I dunno. It could be interesting, it could be awful. We shall see. But I’m telling you, the sheer MASS of the mail I had to carry upstairs was ridiculous.

Guess who forgot to turn their alarm on last night? Hence the lateness of this post and my general discombobulated state this morning. On the plus side, I’m well rested after getting to bed at 2AM…

np – various artists / The Believer Music Issue Jun/Jul 2005

By : Frank Yang at 9:08 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. david says:

    A Moby head shot? I am truly saddened that he didn’t send me one.

    I always mean to do a weekly review of the discs that show up at my doorstep, but it usually takes me a couple of weeks to listen to them (my backlog is huge), and I try to maintain positivity when mentioning bands.

    I envy the two Keren Ann shows. I’ve seen her several times and she always amazes me.