Wednesday, February 14th, 2007
So I was taking a look at my initial review of Midlake’s album The Trials Of Van Occupanther and figured I was probably overly harsh or dismissive. It’s true that when I first listened to the record last Summer, I was rather nonplussed – especially considering the effusive praise that they were getting everywhere else – but having revisited the record in anticipation of their show at Lee’s Palace on Monday, I can say I now have a greater appreciation for the record’s charms. It’s still steadfastly 70s soft rock (though I’ve never listened to Fleetwood Mac so I can’t comment on those oft-repeated comparisons) but certainly strong enough to stand up without being propped up by nostalgia.
Which brings us to Monday night. Opening the tour was fellow Texan Annie Clark who plays guitar for The Polyphonic Spree but plies her trade solo as St Vincent. Playing without a band, Clark’s set was quirky and engaging, showcasing her formidable guitar skills (equal parts jazz and post-punk) and off-kilter songwriting that goes from delicate to deranged in a heartbeat. Her scattershot banter about being in Canada for the first time was also greatly entertaining. I look forward to seeing St Vincent again next month in Austin, as she will be playing Hot Freaks inside at the Mohawk on Friday, March 16 at 2:30PM. End plug.
If there was such a thing as a charisma-o-meter, Midlake would rate somewhere around -10 (the scale is whatever you imagine it to be). This is simply a fact, and the band probably wouldn’t dispute it even if they were able to find their way out of the small fortress wall they built across the front of the stage with their banks of keyboards. But don’t think that this meant that it wasn’t a good show – far from it, actually. Despite the fact that the video projector was more prominent on stage than any of the players, they still but on a great show thanks pretty much entirely to the strength of their songs and musicianship.
Live, they sound almost as smooth as they do on record but with a little less of the studio sheen that so immediately identifies them as disciples of that particular decade (you know the one). Though they couldn’t reproduce the multitracked layers of vocals on Van Occupanther, they still sounded pretty damn good with the two- and three-part harmonies they could pull off live. With the aforementioned supply of keyboards and synths on hand and some very tasteful and tasty guitar work, they brought pretty much the whole of Van Occupanther as well as some older material to life, seemingly preferring to soundtrack the odd visuals projected behind them rather than be the focus of attention themselves. But again, I’m not really complaining – my appreciation for the album, which had been growing steadily over the past few weeks, reached a new level after seeing the band live.
And as a footnote, I was quite amazed at how packed Lee’s Palace was for a Monday night. I didn’t piece together why until I overheard a few people in the audience mentioning Jason Lee. Then it all made sense (third paragraph). Now why Jason Lee would have so much sway over people is another question entirely. But I digress. The Boston Globe talks to the band about being stuck in the ’70s.
Photos: Midlake, St Vincent @ Lee’s Palace – February 12, 2007
MP3: Midlake – “Roscoe”
MP3: Midlake – “Young Bride (CWL Remix)”
Video: Midlake – “Roscoe” (YouTube)
Video: Midlake – “Young Bride” (MOV)
MySpace: St Vincent
Chart brings word of a rather star-studded Go-Betweens tribute album. Tribute records are kind of played out but I have to say – if anyone deserves one, it’s the Go-Betweens and with the talent involved, there’s no reason it can’t be excellent.
Stylus defends Terry Gilliam’s oft-reviled The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, and I say hear hear. I’ve always loved that film and even if it’s not perfect – or really, far from it – it’s hardly the travesty that some would make it out to be.
So fun fun fun – my 300GB hard drive, which holds all my music and photos and isn’t even a year old, is dying very quickly. I’m getting a “Windows – Delayed write failed” error intermittently but more and more frequency. I *hope* there’s enough life left in it to get all my files off, but it won’t be easy and it sure as hell won’t be fun. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate technology lately? ‘Cause I do – I really really do.