Friday, October 17th, 2008
The Company I Can Get
The New Year in Toronto
Frank YangRocking out, of course, would have been wholly inappropriate. The New Year may have finally chosen to visit Toronto after years of passing us by, but to make any sort of production of it would have been completely out of character. Instead, the slow and steady languidness on which they’ve built their career (or careers, if you count Bedhead) demanded that the Texan quintet show up, do their quietly mesmerizing thing and depart. Which they did, while still blowing at least a few of the 50 or so minds gathered to welcome them.
I’d gotten a preview of what the live show might be like when the two principals – Matt and Bubba Kadane – played Sneaky Dee’s as a duo back in July but as anticipated, the addition of the third (and at one point fourth) guitar and rock-solid rhythm section featuring drummer extraordinaire Chris Brokaw put things into another dimension from that stripped-down performance. I covered some of what makes The New Year special in my review of their new eponymous album but to see the intricate guitar-chestrations executed live was fascinating – between the five of them, it was like watching musical engineers at work, systematically and methodically building something cool and crystalline and beautiful.
Neither Kadane seemingly interested in stepping up to the front of the stage unless they had to sing, so at more than a few points the entire band was pulled back to near the back of the stage, far more intent on the job at hand than working the crowd. Material was drawn from all three of their records though with the absence of a piano in the lineup, arrangements were rejigged to be even more guitar-intensive but such is the magic of their recipe that even with all that going on, nothing got overly busy or muddled – each part rung out clear as a bell and as delicately or intensely as necessary. With a set that lasted just an hour including encore, it seemed rather short considering how long I – and at least a few others I sure – had waited for the show, but that’s a small complaint. Satisfying in every other regard.
It was unclear who support was for this show – all listings I’d seen said Angela Desveaux, but a few instead said a fellow named Ryan Driver. As it happens, it was both. Driver was up first and didn’t seem at all perturbed to be playing to less than a dozen people. Seated in a chair and deftly fingerpicking his acoustic guitar, he offering up a short set of fairly standard but still well-executed coffeehouse folk. Desveaux, on the other hand, brought a full-sized band featuring not just three guitars but a pedal steel as well, all tasked with recreating the rich country pop of her latest record The Mighty Ship. I’ve always found Desveaux to be a solid, if not over spectacular, live performer – her strength is very much her voice and songwriting – so the extra musical muscle went a long way to making things engaging throughout. Throw in a couple of covers from Paul Simon and Richard & Linda Thompson and you had a set that was comfy like a warm sweater.
Photos: The New Year, Angela Desveaux, Ryan Driver @ Lee’s Palace – October 15, 2008
MP3: The New Year – “The Company I Can Get”
MP3: The New Year – “X Off Days”
MP3: The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
MP3: The New Year – “Sinking Ship”
MP3: Angela Desveaux – “Sure Enough”
MP3: Angela Desveaux – “Heartbeat”
Video: The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
Video: Angela Desveaux – “Wandering Eyes”
Video: The New Year – “Disease”
MySpace: The New Year
MySpace: Angela Desveaux
MP3: Travis – “J. Smith”
The Denver Post chats with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Their new EP Satanic Messiah is available digitally, either via a pay what you can model or at a suggested price tag of the devil of $6.66.
Two Hours Traffic are coming back for their four millionth Toronto show this year for an all-ages gig at the Whippersnapper Gallery on November 28 as part of their “Sure Can Start” tour. Hey, that’s the same name as one of their songs. What a coincidence!