Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
So since around SxSW, I’ve been hearing people talk about Australian band The Grates as a band to watch out for. When I ask what they sound like, the first point of comparison is almost inevitably The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Now at this point, I can either a) fess up that I’ve never really listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs either so that frame of reference isn’t particularly useful, thus ensuring that I will be way behind the hipster 8-ball, or b) quickly change to subject to some long-defunct shoegazey band. But I recently got a copy of not only the Grates’ debut record Gravity Won’t Get You High but the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s latest record Show Your Bones so I can actually offer something resembling an informed opinion on both bands. Yay.
The main thing I’d heard about the Grates is that they’re a tremendously fun live act, and while I’ve not seen them, it’s not for lack of opportunity. I think they’ve played Toronto at least twice in the last six months, most recently barely a month ago. Interestingly, I don’t believe any of these shows were headlining gigs – instead they’re coming all the way from Australia to open. I also missed them at SxSW but BrooklynVegan was not only there but has some photo evidence of singer Patience Hodgson’s remarkable hang time.
And listening to thre record, it’s hard not to want to jump up and down – chock full of energy, sass and general jubilation, It’s eminently danceable in a refreshingly non-post-punk way. And while it’s a fun ride start to finish, it paces itself just well enough to not exhaust the listener. It’s not easy walking the line of being fun and youthful without being silly or a novelty but The Grates pull it off. Maybe they’ll come back to town a third time in ’06…? The album is out domestically on August 29. and LAist asked six questions of Hodgson – how she manages so much vertical is not one of them. It’s gotta be the shoes.
If Gravity Won’t Get You High‘s charms are broad, playful strokes in primary colours, Show Your Bones a technicolour action painting that somehow manages to both abstract and realist at the same time. I was rather surprised how much I liked the Yeah Yeah Yeahs disc – I had been under the impression that they were more spastic and Karen O’s vocals more caterwaul-y. Based on what, I do not know, but that’s what I thought. O’s voice is indeed powerful and elastic (and surprisingly twangy?), but she’s in total control of it the whole time. The whole band is superbly tight and the songcraft also up to par – hooky, rocking and more than a little nervy and brash. Does it sound like I’m surprised how much I like this record? Well that’s because I am. Maybe in the future I’ll pay more attention to what a band actually sounds like instead of just what I think they sound like. Even though that really does make my life easier. Prefix has an interview with Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase.
What will surely be one of the highlights of Lollapalooza this weekend is the almost-final performance from Sleater-Kinney. Even though they’ve added two more Portland shows for a proper hometown farewell, this Friday will surely be their last for many of their fans. The Chicago Tribune and This Is Fake DIY (two parts) both have tributes to the massively influential and sure-to-be-missed band.
Check it out – new Mogwai video.
So good and bad concert news – good news being that Mojave 3 have confirmed a Toronto date for October 16, presumably at Lee’s Palace. Tim O’Reagan opens. Bad news is that The Cardigans’ North American tour is slowly being cancelled. With New York, Boston and Minneapolis cancelled, I imagine it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing is nixed. Update: Toronto cancelled! See? When Magnus said, “The US tour not confirmed yet!”, he wasn’t messing around. Alas. But hey – Asobi Seksu at the Horseshoe, come on down.
np – Red Sparowes / At The Soundless Dawn