Monday, April 24th, 2006
All The Little Girls And Boys
Saturday night’s double bill of Vancouverites Young & Sexy and local boy Gentleman Reg was a near-repeat of the bill when last I saw Y&S in December ’03, though the middle band from that show, Hotel, was missing though not missed. That show was decidedly middling, which I attributed to the band having just flown in from the west coast that day and thus being discombobulated. This time, however, they were nearing the end of a Canadian tour in support of their third record Panic When You Find It that had them in southern Ontario for several days before hitting the Drake Underground in Toronto. So that excuse was right out.
And this time around, they were indeed better though I think I’m prepared to state definitively that Young & Sexy are, sadly, not an espcially good live act. They’re not bad, but I just don’t think they’ve got the charisma or presence to dazzle in a live context. It’s kind of a nebulous statement, I know, but there you go. But on to the positive – for most of the show, they sounded quite good with a set list drawing from all three records. Paul Pittman and Lucy Brain’s harmonies, thanks to their precise and slightly arch deliveries, sounded quite good and Colin McClean’s lead guitar gave the band’s decidedly proper pop sound a ragged edge though sometimes it sounded a little too far out to be completely complimentary. The only real misstep was the encore cover of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In The Sand” – while Brain’s vocals sounded excellent and gave their version a fresh new angle, the band sounded exceptionally sloppy and under-rehearsed on it, which they may very well have been. You could argue that some degree of slop is essential for Neil, but it just didn’t work quite right on this night.
Gentleman Reg had been playing opener for Young & Sexy on several of the southern Ontario dates, and though it’s been a couple years since I’ve seen him play a proper set of his own, he seems to get better and better every time. Maybe it’s the songcraft that’s gotten better, maybe it’s the live band, maybe it’s both, I dunno. But he seems to have found the right balance between delicate folkiness and uptempo, electrified pop with just the right amount of musclature – something perhaps Reg is aware of, given his choice in drum kit decorations. A shortish set, but good all around.
Photos here. I think there’s something weird about the lights at the Drake. They do strange things to skin tones. I also want to take the opportunity to talk about something Young & Sexy do very very well – make albums. Their first two records were sublime slices of chamber pop, with songs whose singalongability sometimes belied the complex writing and arrangements underneath. Their third album, Panic When You Find It, just came out a couple months ago and while it’s considerably less immediate than its predecessors, it’s beginning to reveal itself. Here’s a couple tracks from the new record and there’s samples from all three albums available on their website and MySpace.
The Luna documentary Tell Me Do You Miss Me will be released on DVD on June 20. Full Of Wishes has the next two parts in the band interview series, with axeman Sean Eden and chief songwriter Dean Wareham being next up to talk about the film. Nice to hear that Sean is getting a new band together and is planning to play out – his two singing/songwriting contributions to Rendezvous were definite highlights and I for one am eager to hear more of his compositions. FOW also has links to a couple reviews of the doc.
And speaking of tour films, The National are the subject of a three-part mini-documentary that Beggars has made available via iTunes. Only part one is up, but to get it – it’s free – go to the iTunes music store and search for “Beggars”. You’ll get a page for Beggarz but if you click past it (these aren’t the droids you’re looking for), you’ll see a link for the Beggars Videocast – that’s what you want.
Dearly departed Delgados will release their complete BBC Peel Sessions, collected in the cleverly titled The Complete BBC Peel Sessions, on June 12. You can see the complete tracklist for the double-disc set here and listen to “Mauron Chanson” from the collection on the Chemikal Underground MySpace page.
Neil Young’s new record, Living With War, is looking like it’s going to have a early- to mid-May release, but according to Billboard, you’ll be able to hear it as a stream off of Neil’s website starting sometime this week. Blogcritics speculates at the shitstorm of criticism that will no doubt come flying from the right when the album comes out, even more than what’s already being flung and that’s not inconsiderable. Oh, and in keeping with the times, the album has a blog. Update: Pitchfork reports the stream will begin this Friday and be available for download sale on May 2.
I was far too excited to see Rob Lowe back on The West Wing last night. I’m surprised that he didn’t return last week for Leo’s funeral, but he’ll be around through the end of the series’ run on May 14.
np – Calexico / Garden Ruin