Thursday, September 14th, 2006
As worn out as I’ve been of late, it didn’t take too much effort to find the energy to see Shearwater at Lee’s Palace Tuesday night. While it was going to be great to see them on the second night of a short jaunt with The Magnolia Electric Co, I was also a little frustrated that while this would be the third time I’d seen them this year (twice at SxSW), none of them were proper full-length sets. But hey, I’ll take what I can get.
Opening was Julie Doiron, once upon a time of Eric’s Trip. I’ve always thought of Doiron’s material as being the epitome of ultra-delicate singer-songwriter-ness, ideal for folks who find Cat Power way too metal. But to my surprise, she came out this night electric and amped up with a four-piece band (including two drummers and a tickle trunk of percussive toys – double drummers is the new black). Her vocals are still frail and wavery, occasionally evidencing only a passing acquaintance with the idea of being in key, but the more forceful musical accompaniment did much to balance out the fragility of her voice and songs, coming across like early Cat Power crossed with electric Neil Young. Unexpectedly good stuff.
I mentioned back in May that Shearwater’s new album Palo Santo was on a shortlist for one of my top records of the year. Well four months and many, many new releases later, I’m still standing by that statement. Interestingly, as I listen to it more, it almost seems to get less accessible and more mysterious but also more engrossing if that makes any sense. But while it’s not a pop record and maybe requires a bit of work on the part of the listener, I make no hesitation about recommending it to anyone and everyone. But anyway, to the show. Jonathan Meiburg had been fighting off a bit of illness that had been affecting his voice, but if you didn’t know I highly doubt you’d have noticed. His vocals still soared where they needed to and the band was electrifying, intense, delicate and affecting throughout.
The 40-minute set drew from many points in Shearwater’s catalog and sounded great – it’s amazing how just four players can create such a rich, textured and wholly organic sound – but I’d also have been happy to hear a Palo Santo-heavier set. Hell, I’d like to hear the whole thing played start to finish though I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon. Like I said before, it’s frustrating to not be able to see Shearwater perform a full set short of flying down to Austin sometime (besides SxSW). If there’s any justice, they’ll be doing headlining tours of their own before long and while the band is unequivocally Meiburg’s vehicle now, there are some Will Sheff-penned tunes in their repetoire that I’d love to hear live. Oh, and if anyone in attendance was wondering, this is the shark that Meiburg dedicated a song to.
As for the headliners, I had to bow out – I’d already seen them twice before and I was beat. Considering Mr Molina and his company come through town about twice a year now, I’m sure I’ll get my chance to see them again before long.
The Daily Texan previews Meiburg’s other band – Okkervil River – in advance of their performance at the ACL Fest this weekend. Meiburg and co will be in Boston that night instead. But the whole band was assembled for a recent show being recorded for a live DVD – eyewitness accounts at Party Ends.
Photos: Shearwater, Julie Doiron @ Lee’s Palace – September 12, 2006
MP3: Julie Doiron – “Goodnight Nobody”
MP3: Shearwater – “Seventy-Four Seventy-Five”
MP3: Shearwater – “White Waves”
MySpace: Julie Doiron
R.E.M. tell Billboard that on their next album, they’re going to rock. For real. Honest. And to prove it, they a rock show at a tribute night to themselves in Athens. Way to make the other bands (including one fronted by Patterson Hood) feel inadequate.
In case you hadn’t heard, on October 1 there will be a free (free!) show at the Kool Haus to celebrate the UNESCO International Day of Music. Sponsored by CBC Radio 3 and Bande à Part (the Quebec equivalent), it will feature two anglo artists and two francophone – The Joel Plaskett Emergency and Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton while Quebec is represented by Les Trois Accords and Les Breastfeeders, whose name I suspect means the same thing in both languages. To reserve a ticket, go here and to read about the event go to Chart and to read an interview with Emily, go to Adam Radwanski’s site. The Toronto Star has a review of her recent solo show at the Gladstone – a hint of what you can expect at the upcoming show.
And a couple upcoming shows – Clem Snide frontman Eef Barzalay and Casey Dienel will be at Rancho Relaxo on October 14, Sparta and Sound Team at the Opera House on OCtober 15 and Scritti Politti is at the Opera House November 6. Scritti Politti? The Opera House? Really? That’s… a big venue for a band without a website.