Wednesday, November 16th, 2005
Decline And Fall
Last night, Sneaky Dee’s played host to the Loveless Music Group travelling road show. As the name tips off, Loveless is a New York-based co-operative dedicated to creating and promoting shoegaze-a-like music. One of the founders of the community is the Autumn Thieves, whom I reviewed this past Sunday. A quick look at the playlist on the Loveless MySpace page reveals a nice blend of styles that’s pretty much up my alley (and I am reminded that 2/3 of the defunct On!Air!Library! are carrying on in Daylight For The Birds, and sound great).
Anyways, calling it a travelling roadshow is actually inaccurate since Autumn Thieves were the only act on the bill that had actually travelled from anywhere. Bleep and Fjord Rowboat are both local acts (a fourth act, Dictioncanary, was also on the bill but I couldn’t stick around that late). If nothing else, the evening was an interesting exercise in non-traditional band configurations.
Bleep are a three-piece who create almost completely synthetic yet very emotional-sounding music. Most of this is thanks to the remarkable vocals of Robyn Sellman, whose voice reminds very much of Kate Bush or Liz Fraser, and when grafted on top of glitchy IDM sequencer tracks, electronic drums and heavily processed and occasionally abused guitar, it makes for something quite compelling and unique-sounding. It’s a shame not many people arrived early enough to see them play (when they started, I constituted half of the audience) because they were worth hearing.
Fjord Rowboat were the most conventional band in the lineup, both in setup and sound. Boasting zero sequencers or laptops and one drummer (on an acoustic kit!), Fjord Rowboat served up some decidedly Anglophilic rock with overt space-rock overtones. There were moments where the band just clicked and it sounded terrific, but at other points something just seemed off. “Paragon”, the one recorded song they have available to download didn’t come off particularly well which is a shame, because it’s an excellent tune. I’ll certainly give them another chance to make a first impression should I see them again, which seems likely.
As I mentioned in my quick review of Autumn Thieves on Sunday, I felt there was definitely the potential for something cool from this outfit, but it hasn’t been realized yet. Now having seen them live, this opinion is simply reinforced even more. On the plus side, their pre-recorded sequenced tracks were more sophisticated and even had changes and dynamics – very nice. While I still think a live drummer would suit them better, the use of the backing tracks to form a sort of continuous soundscape between songs was fairly effective. On the negative side, however, they were far too loud onstage for a band with no drummer to be heard over nor a huge crowd to reach. All it really accomplished was obscuring Courtney Hutcheson’s vocals, which is unfortunate because they’re really the band’s main strength. Also unfortunate was the band’s almost complete lack of onstage charisma and chemistry – Hutcheson looked petrified onstage and often seemed to be looking to bassist Andy Zuercher for guidance, and all the while guitarist Mike Swanson seemed oblivious to his bandmates and was off in some riff-happy arena rock world. I don’t know, it just didn’t click for me. I still think they could get it together and are on the right path and are fighting the good fight. The more I listen to the tracks on their MySpace page, the more the strengths outshine the weaknesses, but there’s still a ways to go.
Some updated release dates – Trespassers William’s Having will be out Feberuary 28 and Josh Rouse’s Subtotu Lo (I’m pretty sure there’re supposed to be accents in there somewhere) is out March 21. And excitingly, the new Golden Smog disc, still untitled, has been given a March 28 release date. Also, Sarah Harmer’s new one I’m A Mountain gets a US release February 7.
And no, I don’t know anything this little tidbit in a recent mailing from Belle & Sebastian that has kids all in a tizzy:
Cryptic last bit: There will actually be another B&S album (of sorts) released before The Life Pursuit. In three weeks in fact. But we can’t say what it is for a couple of days.
But hopefully details will come to light as January 16 (the date in question) draws near. However, consider this:
The album will be preceded by a single, “Funny Little Frog”, on January 16th. Will it be released in a multitude of bizarre formats? Who knows
Perhaps “Funny Little Frog” will come with a slew of b-sides to make it a mini album? I do not know. Grok the album tracklisting here.
Shows – Stars have added a fourth show to their residency at Lee’s Palace (technically, a fifth if you count both Saturday shows). This one’s on the Sunday, December
19 18. Also, Nada Surf are at Lee’s Palace on March 11.
np – British Sea Power / The Decline Of British Sea Power