Friday, March 23rd, 2007
Smile And Wave
I usually try to enforce a show-going moratorium for at least a week or so after SxSW, just to get my head back together, but this year it lasted but 72 hours. The draw was Maria Taylor and Basia Bulat and despite being medicated to a degree far more suitable for seeing Spiritualized (got me a Texas-sized cold, y’all!), I was off to the ‘Shoe on Wednesday night.
When I saw her at the Drake back in January, I described Basia Bulat’s music as “springtime smiling” – a bit of a throwaway metaphor at the time but now rather prescient. This show came on the evening of the Spring Equinox and watching Bulat and her band perform was like watching one of those time-lapse films of Winter thawing and Spring blooming. The rich, effervescent orchestral pop of her forthcoming debut Oh, My Darling sounded wonderful and Bulat was an effortlessly charming frontwoman (even if she doesn’t seem to realize it). It was also nice to hear their cover of The Strokes’ “Someday” live, sounding much more fully-realized than the off-the-cuff version on her MySpace. The album is due out in May in Europe but there’s still no domestic release confirmed – I got an advance copy of it last night and it sounds as good as the live show would have you hope. Labels should be fighting each other in the street to put this thing out. I don’t understand the world, sometimes.
If Basia Bulat’s set was like a time-lapse film, then Maria Taylor took everything down to slow motion. Whatever project she’s been in, from the power-popping Little Red Rocket through the electronic-y Azure Ray to her recent solo material – including her latest Lynn Teeter Flower – has been defined by her sad, sleepy and lovely vocals. And while it makes for great headphone listening, it’s not an aesthetic that necessarily translates into a compelling live show – which Taylor appears to appreciate. To that end, she was touring with a six-piece band (including her brother and sister) and featuring three guitars – which sort of goes without saying considering they’re from Alabama. Though the more muscular backline definitely helped give her material the extra oomph it needed to translate live but not at the expense of the delicacy and intimacy of the songs. The balance struck was actually good, I thought, and the lound jam of “Song Beneath The Song”, was a good finale – even when the random guy from the audience leapt onstage to an open mic to continue singing the outro. The look of incredulousness on Taylor’s face was priceless and at least he was in key.
The Clientele and Beach House will make the El Mocambo a very sleepy place to be on June 4, tickets $22.50 in advance. And the lounge-poppy Postmarks are in town April 21 for a show at the Amp’d Studio, and no, I don’t know what it is. But you can apparently get free tickets here (not for the Postmarks gig yet, but others).
This weekend is the sold-out double-shot of Explosions In The Sky at the Opera House. Chart, JAM!, The Express and New City Chicago talk to the band while Filter gets them to offer a tour of their hometown of Austin, TX – info that may have been useful a week ago but now? Not so much. And NPR has their recent show in DC available to stream or download from their site.