Thursday, November 8th, 2007
The Stale Scent Of Old Beer
First impressions can be deceiving. Seeing Amos The Transparent perform at Pop Montreal last month, I took them for one of the big, ramshackle rock orchestras that usually hail from Toronto, not Ottawa, and specialize in outbursts of musical joyfulness. This impression was helped along by frontman Jonathan Chandler’s geniality – his friendly greetings to every concertgoer in attendance should have seemed totally hokey, but instead came across charming and sincere.
So it was a bit surprising to find that the band is technically just a trio (at least according to the liner notes) and only expands to the baker’s half-dozen for live shows and their album, Everything I’ve Forgotten To Forget, isn’t really joyful at all though that’s probably for the best from my point of view. Happiness gets tired, sadness gets much better mileage and Amos The Transparent has a full tank. Everything is a collision of folk song intimacy and classic rock anthemicism, fused together by a deep melodic and melancholic streak and delivered by Chandler’s with equal parts rage and resignation. It stops short of despair, however, as the presence of sweet backing vocals from Ana Miura and Star Amy Millan give proceedings a he-said, she-said dynamic that offers some sense of flickering optimism – as bad as things may be, at least they’re still talking.
Everything is a dense record both sonically and lyrically and with the number of times it builds from a gently strummed rumination to a thundering crescendo, a bit exhausting by the time you’re done but well worth the trip. Also worth the effort is catching them live, as you can do this weekend as Amos is in town tonight at the Horseshoe with Two Hours Traffic and tomorrow night for a show at Tiger Bar.
NME reports that Radiohead’s In Rainbows will get a physical, non-gift boxed release in Europe and the UK on December 31 via XL, which lends credence to rumours that the North American release will be on New Year’s Day via ATO. Assuming you can find an open store.