Monday, November 5th, 2007
Angst For The Memories
Let’s hear it for efficiency in concert-going. Technically, I hit up three different shows in under 24 hours over the weekend – two were in-store matinees, sure, but still. That’s getting the most out of a day. The proper show was at the Tiger Bar, in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Easy Tiger nights and with nothing whatsoever to do with Ryan Adams. Actually that’s not entirely true, but mostly.
First on the bill was The Rural Alberta Advantage, a local trio that’s proven more than a little elusive since I first saw them way back in February both in regards to seeing them live or even getting a copy of their 2006 EP. Happily, both proved worth the wait. It’s hard to accurately describe the RAA, which is odd since there’s really not that many ingredients at work – strained hollers, sweet harmonies, frantic acoustic guitars, whirring synths and loads of percussion – but you’d start from the intersection of Neutral Milk Hotel and Yo La Tengo and head west towards the Rockies. A little folky, a little funky and a lot of pop – I eagerly await the proper full-length, hopefully out in the new year.
I actually have a bit of a history with The Wooden Sky – not a “we found a dead body in the ravine and swore never to talk about it” history, but simply that I’ve seen them a few times over the past few years – and my old band played with them once – and it’s been interesting to see them develop. Of course, back then they were called Friday Morning’s Regret, which was the name they originally released their debut album When Lost At Sea under, but in May they announced their new identity and re-pressed all their CDs accordingly. Does that make my copy a collector’s item?
Dressed in skeleton make-up to celebrate the Day Of The Dead, The Wooden Sky reminded me of why I was always so impressed by FMR. I’d remembered them as a Neil-ish alt.country band with sharp arrangements and solid songwriting but they’ve since injected a heavier dose of rock into their sound, recalling Whiskeytown at points (there’s your Ry-Ry content), as well as some strings and keys to mix things up. Though you could still easily and accurately call them a roots-rock band, they evidence an ambition to be more than that – as though understanding that while roots are what they are, they don’t stop you from growing up and out in whatever direction you like.
Photos: The Wooden Sky, The Rural Alberta Advantage @ Tiger Bar – November 2, 2007
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “North Dakota”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “The Wooden Sky”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “The Dethbridge In Lethbridge”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Sleep All Day”
MySpace: The Wooden Sky
MySpace: The Rural Alberta Advantage
The aforementioned in-stores maintained the country-ish vibe of the weekend, with the incomparable Sadies stopping in at Rotate This on Friday evening and then Sonic Boom on Saturday afternoon. Both times, Dallas Good mentioned how daunting the format was for them as they’d never played live acoustically before but if they were having any difficulty, you sure couldn’t tell. They still played as fast and furiously as they would have on their electrics and I found that the (relatively) quieter set allowed them to showcase their other strengths that might otherwise get overlooked, namely their songwriting chops and vocal work. The latter was most evident on songs from New Seasons, where the vocal harmonies and interplay between the Good brothers had the fingerprints of producer Gary Louris all over them. Though you’ll never hear me say anything remotely like electrified Sadies are a bad thing, acoustic Sadies are pretty terrific as well and should be something they consider doing more often.
The Handsome Furs have a date scheduled for December 20 at Lee’s Palace.
NPR has launched a new music-oriented site that gathers all their wonderful content – live sessions, concerts, interviews – into an easy-to-navigate hub. Loverly.