Monday, November 20th, 2006
You And I Are A Gang Of Losers
For a period back around 2001 or so, it seemed I couldn’t get away from The Dears. Okay, that’s probably overstating it but seeing them three times in seven months, and never deliberately (they were either on a larger bill or opening for someone or whatever), it certainly seemed like they were following me and they didn’t manage to particularly impress me at any of the shows. I think at that point they were were still promoting their 2000 debut End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story and while I appreciated that they were doing something different and ambitious, their songs and melodramatic delivery simply didn’t connect and so I basically ignored them for the next five years or so.
Fast-forward to this past September at the V-Fest gig they either loved or hated and whatever their take was, I was certainly impressed. The new material from Gang Of Losers was tight, focused and considerably more pop and accessible. While I can appreciate this probably turned off some of their old fanbase who liked them to sprawl, it got me more interested enough to pick up the record as well as come out for this, the first of a three-night stand at Lee’s Palace.
Also helping to sell the show was the fact that fellow Montrealers Land Of Talk were support for the first two nights. For a myriad of reasons, I hadn’t seen them live since that first time at The Boat back in June though my love for Applause Cheer Boo Hiss has only grown in the interim. So I was more than pleased to see them again and also to find that they were even better this time around. Fierce and tense yet oh-so-tuneful, they interspersed the material from the EP with some new, slower numbers which offered a nice dynamic balance in their set. These guys seriously have to make a full-length album and soon. So good.
The Dears may have been off my musical radar the past few years, but judging from the size and enthusiasm of the crowd on Thursday night, I was in the minority. Dears fans are rabid. The set list began and ended with Gang Of Losers material, but the heart of it was devoted to the more epic No Cities Left material it was at this point that it began to feel less like being in an audience and more like being in a congregation with Murray Lightburn as the impassioned, charismatic minister. Some criticize The Dears for being overly (melo)dramatic and while I can see that point of view, particularly on record, but when you’re in the middle of the live experience and surrounded by believers, it all feels very real and powerful. Anthemic, emotional and intense from start to finish.
Adding to the experience was the fact that band had clearly taken advantage of their multi-night engagement to make themselves at home, bringing an assortment of smoke machines and special lighting effects for the occasion and making Lee’s Palace a far more visually dramatic venue than it normally is and however long they had to soundcheck paid off as the sound was excellent. I definitely enjoyed the show and while I don’t know that I’m ready to be called a fan nearly on par with some of the others in attendance that night, I definitely have a greater appreciation for the band and the new record, which I was only moderately impressed with before. I may even investigate No Cities Left if the mood strikes.
Photos: The Dears, Land Of Talk @ Lee’s Palace – November 16, 2006
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Speak To Me Bones”
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Breaxxbaxx”
Video: The Dears – “Ticket To Immortality” (MOV)
Video: The Dears – “Whites Only Party” (MOV)
eCard: The Dears / Gang Of Losers
MySpace: The Dears
MySpace: Land Of Talk
AOL continues to try and prove they’re the indie-friendly multinational media conglomerate – TV On The Radio is the latest band to record a session for The Interface while The Mountain Goats stopped in at The DL, their newish web tv show thing, like Montel. The Cardigans were on a recent episode as well.
Drowned In Sound asks Shins frontman James Mercer how he feels about their new album, Wincing The Night Away, having already leaked to the internet well in advance of its January 23 release date. What’s that? You didn’t know it leaked? Well you didn’t hear it here. But hey – you can hear one of the new songs with conscience clear at their MySpace.
Christmas has come early for Mercury Rev fans as they’ve got not one but two new releases in stores now. There’s the Stillness Breathes: 1991 – 2006 retrospective as well as Hello Blackbird, the soundtrack for the 2005 film Bye Bye Blackbird.
Do you like to plan ahead? Then jot down that Clinic are at Lee’s Palace March 12 and Of Montreal will be at the Opera House on March 13, barring something unexpected happening between now and then. Like a meteor strike.