Monday, November 6th, 2006
With the abrupt cancellation of the Favourite Sons/ Drones/ Devastations show on Saturday, it freed me up to hit another show that was almost certainly a polar opposite experience from the one I would have had. Instead of being aurally assaulted at the El Mocambo, I was sitting in a comfy armchair beside a roaring fire in a small room at the Tranzac. Seriously. Cozy doesn’t begin to describe it.
There were four acts on the bill but only a total of six musicians. Strange math. The first two were local solo performers with a similar configuration but different vibes. Toronto’s This Is Picture played accompanied by classical guitar (and for one number a capella) and offered up a set of clipped-structred, chorus-less emo songwriting. Not particularly my thing but his pitch, projection and musicianship was quite impressive.
Mississauguan Ghost Hands also did the solo singer-songwriter thing (though on steel-string rather than nylon) and his take was a little more conventional but I also found it more enjoyable. He comes from a more folk direction and coupled some evocative, stream-of-consciousness songwriting with a wide-eyed, jaunty delivery.
Over The Atlantic hail from New Zealand which raised the question in my mind – if they were actually intending to travel over the Atlantic, which would be the most logical direction to do it from? I guess going east over South America would get you there quicker but you’d be a lot farther from everything. But I digress. The Kiwi two-piece create dreamy, guitar-led lap-pop that recalls early +/- though they have some shoegazer aspirations as well, as indicated by the periodic walls of noise they’d unleash and the fact that they had a song called “Kevin Shields” (though that particular number sounded more like it should be called “Jason Pierce”). I have to admit that though I was enjoying what they were doing, I’m pretty sure I nodded off a couple times during their set. See above about comfy chair and roaring fire – a recipe for nap time if ever there was one.
But somehow I stayed awake while watching Baltimore’s Beach House spend a good half hour trying to sort out the technical gremlins that delayed their set. For whatever reason, I found the sight of an ever-increasing number of people huddled around a mixer fascinating. The two-piece were traveling with a pretty sizable setup for performing the minimalist music from their their self-titled debut but whatever the problem was they eventually worked around it and got started. If they were at all out of sorts from the experience, they didn’t really sound it. Backed by static-y drum loops played off a discman (old school!), their haunting, baroque, transistor radio-down-a-well dream-pop sounded marvelous and enveloping in the small room. Accompanying herself perfectly on wheezing organ and with Alex Scally on spare, spidery guitar and keys, Victoria Legrand’s voice was emotionally distant (as being drenched in reverb is wont to do) but capable of heart-rending soulfulness and emotion where needed. They sounded sad and stark and almost perfectly captured the sound of the dying days of Autumn. Remind me to send a note to the dude from Favourite Sons thanking him for getting sick.
Photos: Beach House, Over The Atlantic, Ghost Hands, This Is Picture @ Tranzac – November 4, 2006
MP3: Beach House – “Apple Orchard”
MP3: Beach House – “Master Of None”
MP3: Over The Atlantic – “Starsign”
MP3: Ghost Hands – “Goodbye Cool World”
Video: Over The Atlantic – “35 Black And White” (YouTube)
MySpace: Beach House
New York dreampop combo Daylight’s For The Birds released their debut album Trouble Everywhere last week and it’s really quite good, like waking from a daydream in a Summer meadow (though I’m unsure if it’s actually possible to wake from a daydream since, by definition, you’re already awake but again – I digress). And if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can stream the whole thing here.
np – Wheat / Hope & Adams