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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

My Party Is Better Than Yours

Emmy The Great at The Delancey and Pianos, New York City – CMJ

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere had been a plan, back at SxSW earlier this year, to follow – “stalk” is such an ugly word – Emmy The Great to as many of her various day shows and performances as possible. As it happens, I failed utterly and was only able to see her play once, at her official showcase but it was as good as I’d hoped.

And so I planned to spend Saturday afternoon in New York City again following Ms Moss around and though I got a late start, having to hoof it from Greenwich Village to the Lower East Side – I was actually running through the subway at 14th and 8th – I managed to make her first show of the day on the roof of The Delancey. Now while I’m sure the building housed a proper stage somewhere in its environs, but the roof was just a shadowy patio with dense foliage with Emmy set up to one side with only a very basic PA – the very opposite of fancy. But she and her band do scrappy, stripped-down arrangements well – they were like a gang of buskers – so the setting wasn’t any real sort of detriment, though the sound could have been a bit better and they were basically playing in darkness. With only a handful of people paying attention – I guess 1PM was a bit early for the last day of CMJ, most likely everyone was still hung over in bed – they zipped through a set that contained songs both familiar and not, but presumably focused on the songs that had made the cut for her debut album, First Love. It was short but sweet and highlighted by drummer Pete Baker adding percussion to “Gabriel” by banging his shoe on a plastic drum case.

It was a few hours till the next engagement so I wandered the Lower East Side a bit before impending foul weather drove me to the venue – the cozy upstairs lounge at Pianos – early. This turned out to be fortuitous as the acts preceding her were certainly worth my time. The Dutchess & The Duke, a Seattle outfit built around the dual voices and guitars of Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz who sound like a ’60s blues-rock band who decided to become a folk-pop band and turned out to be quite good at it. There’s melody and harmony a-plenty, but also a gruff sort of swagger that gives it all a nice bit of edge. Though they played a short set on account of a late start, but it made an impression – when I got home I dug up their new album She’s The Dutchess, He’s The Duke and will spend some time with that.

The were followed by Brooklyn’s The End Of The World, a four-piece best described as dealing in an appealing blend of classic rock and country-noir – not especially groundbreaking, but well-written and executed. Their set fell victim to a drum kit seemingly hell-bent on self-destructing, but what they did manage to get through was promising. Their new album French Exit is out November 4 and in addition to the MP3 below, another is available for frees at RCRDLBL.

Emmy’s second set of the day started out much like her first, but with a better sound system behind her and a much larger audience in front of her. Interspersing her casually confessional folk songs with hilarious between-song banter (requests for “M.I.A.” were met with, “she’s not here – she’s knocked up”), she and her band were entertaining and beguiling. It was initially disappointing when she broke a string midway through and it turned out they didn’t have a spare, but instead she borrowed bandmate Euan Hinshelwood’s guitar and completed the set solo, including absolutely stirring readings of “24” and “City Song”, the latter accented by Hinshelwood’s note-perfect harmonies. I don’t know if they’d have made the set otherwise, and if so if they’d have been as affecting, so let’s just say thank goodness for happy accidents.

I had been saving a place on my year-end list for First Love, but with its September release now moved to January of next year, I guess it’ll have to keep for another year. Based on what I saw and heard this past Saturday afternoon, I have no problem keeping that particular seat warm – this record is going to be an absolute gem.

Photos: Emmy The Great @ The Delancey, New York City – October 25, 2008
Photos: Emmy The Great, The End Of The World, The Dutchess & The Duke @ Pianos Lounge, New York City – October 25, 2008
MP3: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
MP3: Emmy The Great – “Two Steps Forward” (live)
MP3: Emmy The Great – “MIA” (live from Black Room Sessions)
MP3: Emmy The Great – “The Hypnotist’s Son” (live from Black Room Sessions)
MP3: The End Of The World – “I Don’t Wanna Lose”
MP3: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Reservoir Park”
Video: Emmy The Great – “We Almost Had A Baby”
Video: Emmy The Great – “Gabriel”
Video: Emmy The Great – “Easter Parade”
Video: Emmy The Great – “MIA”
MySpace: Emmy The Great
MySpace: The End Of The World
MySpace: The Dutchess & The Duke

Duffy has a new video for a single that doesn’t appear on Rockferry, but does appear on the forthcoming deluxe edition of Rockferry, due out November 24. It’ll feature seven new tracks, including the aforementioned single. Details at MTV.

Video: Duffy – “Rain On Your Parade”

Patrick Wolf gives NME some details about half of his next record, which will be a double-album. Battles will feature his much-discussed collaboration with Alec Empire while the as-yet untitled other half will be much mellower in mood. He’s aiming for a February release.

Thousand Islands Life talks to Great Lake Swimmer Tony Dekker about choosing the Thousand Islands as the recording locale for their fourth record.

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats talks to The Arizona Daily Star while both Darnielle and collaborator Kaki King discuss their EP Black Pear Tree with The North County Times.

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff talks The Stand-Ins with Chart. And congratulations to Corey Higgins, who won the Insound poster.

Only a trickle of concert announcements rolling in as the year winds down, but while there may not be so much in terms of volume, ones like this certainly make up for it in density – case in point, the “Jingle Bell Rock” tour which features Metric, Tokyo Police Club, The Dears and Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains winding their way across Canada in a one-horse open sleigh. Look for them December 13 at the Sound Academy and experience the special kind of hell that is being on the waterfront at night in December.

By : Frank Yang at 9:07 am
Category: Concert Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post7 Responses.
  1. Roland says:

    I saw Emmy kick off CMJ on Tuesday at the BV showcase at Music Hall, and while I wasn’t quite as blown away, she’s really appealing. She also broke a string during that set, must strum too hard!

  2. Bruce says:

    “Look for them December 13 at the Sound Academy and experience the special kind of hell that is being on the waterfront at night in December.” Which is as nothing compared to what awaits INSIDE the Docks/Sound Academy/Human Stockyards. Great lineup, shame about the venue. When will artists (if they have any consideration or compassion for their audience) wake up and stop booking shows here?

  3. whatlofi says:

    It’s only stalking if the post runs to 2,000 words. You’re fine Frank.

  4. kat says:

    hey frank
    thanks for bringing emmy to everyone’s attention – she’s great.

  5. ovenking says:

    Frank, are you having a schoolboy infatuation? As infatuation targets go, Emmy is pretty great.

  6. Slowcoustic » New on the ‘nets says:

    […] brings a massive amount of indie updates on a daily basis – recently enjoyed their feature on Emmy the Great.  How do they get soo much stuff??  I am going to have to quit my job to even try to follow in […]

  7. An introduction to The Dutchess & The Duke | MP3 Music at MixBurner says:

    […] I technically already wrote up the duo of Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison when I saw them during CMJ 2008, but whatever. My blog, and I can do what I like, and rather than do a review of either their 2008 […]