Saturday, April 07, 2007

Interlude: Blacking Out The Friction


The show that I had been awaiting, pretty much upon seeing the news blurb on Pitchfork, didn't merely meet my expectations; they blew them away. I can definitely say that I've never been to a show that was so consistently excellent and diverse. Of course, I've been loving Mahogany ever since I saw the video for "Supervitesse", but I approached the rest of the show with mere curiosity. I've said before that being familiar with a band's material isn't essential towards enjoying them live, and this was definitely the case here. And serious thanks to Crackers United for putting the whole thing together.


Balún

Puerto Rico's Balún makes wonderful, soothing music that's equally inspired by ambient techno and lo-fi indie pop. There's definitely some commonality with Múm (with whom they share that "ú"), particularly with singer Angelica Negron's child-like vocals. Angelica also plays the accordion, and the band's lack of live drumming was mitigated by the addition of Jose Olivares' laptop wizardry. Despite the mellowness of their sound, they're extremely appealing, and the crowd, myself included, was really won over. Apparently, two of Balún's members live in NYC, and I'll hopefully have a chance to see them again.




Vampire Weekend

Small world. I caught these guys up at Barnard way back in December, and maybe it was the less-than-ideal setup, but they didn't make much of an impression. But this second time around, they were really fantastic. I wouldn't quite say that they rocked out; with only one guitar, my eardrums were left relatively intact. Rather, Vampire Weekend is built on pop sensibilities, with singer's Ezra Koenig's effortless delivery supplemented with the occasional sing-along chorus. The whole atmosphere was incredibly fun, and the set breezed by. Incidentally, it's a crime that they aren't signed yet.


MP3: Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma
MP3: Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
MySpace: Vampire Weekend
Official Site: Vampire Weekend


Before we go on, I have to mention the great job by DJ David Bruno of Slap You In Public. He spun in between all the bands, continually energizing the audience. I think I heard bits of Walter Meego's "Wanna Be A Star" earlier on, but two very familiar plays came courtesy of Feist and LCD Soundsystem. The LCD spin was pretty much true to the album version, but the Feist remix, by Boyz Noise, was really something. By injecting a guttural vocoder rendition of the title line, relentlessly groovy electronics, and still preserving Leslie's winsome vocals, Boyz Noise continues the tradition of excellent Feist remixes. Speaking of remixes, there's an entire site dedicated to reinterpretations of each track of LCD's Sound of Silver, with free downloads of all.

MP3: Feist - My Moon My Man (Boyz Noise Remix)
MP3: LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum


Mahogany
Despite my constant rotation of Mahogany's new album, the band - seven members strong - still brought something new with this awesome set. Bassist Roy Styles wasn't kidding when he said that you can really move to the music in its live incarnation, but what really struck me was the enormity of the sound. Even four guitarists and two bassists wasn't enough, and Mahogany incorporated digital washes and additional instruments, including a xylophone and tambourine. They began with the album opener "Tesselation," establishing a wall of guitars, and sublime, airy vocals from Andrew Prinz and Katrina Rudmin. Despite their characteristically obscured lyrics, the band was very immediate, and very dynamic. Guitarist Ryan Hancock was particularly active, jumping around and inciting the crowd to clap en masse.

The band continued onward with "Domino Ladder Beta," "Supervitesse," and slowing things down for "My Bed Is My Castle." While there was a bit of homogeneity here, that was hardly a bad thing when each song is such a high quality. Mahogany makes some of the most interesting contemporary pop music that I've heard, and it's really wonderful live. Things came to a stunning end with my favorite track off the album, the stomping "Neo-Plastic Boogie-Woogie." The only downside to the set was the length; at only forty minutes, I definitely would have enjoyed another song or three. But if you're lucky enough to be attending one of the upcoming Bloc Party shows in the UK within the next couple weeks, you're really in for a treat.


MP3:
Mahogany - My Bed is My Castle
MP3: Mahogany - Supervitesse
MP3: Mahogany - Springtime, Save Our Country
Official Site: Mahogany


Land of Talk
Last.fm describes Land of Talk as Montreal's answer to Metric. It's not a bad analogy, but while Ms. Haines and company display Toronto-y swagger, Land of Talk combines raucous rock with Montreal-fueled romanticism (a la, say, the Dears or Arcade Fire), creating something mournful yet passionate. The centerpiece of the band is Elizabeth Powell's world-weary vocals, one of the most distinctive I've heard, but she was not alone. Drummer Bucky contributed assaultive beats, and it's understandable that he had to stretch out about halfway through; it was an exhausting and cathartic set in many ways. Bassist Chris also helped out on the occasional chorus, but his real presence was adding the rhythmic groove at the bottom end of Land of Talk's sound.

Land of Talk has a great seven-song EP out entitled Applause Cheer Boo Hiss (there was a great deal more of the former than the latter), and while they were a bit vague on the release of a full-length, it will hopefully be sooner rather than later.

So, in conclusion, four hours of musical bliss.


MP3:
Land Of Talk - Speak To Me Bones
MySpace: Land of Talk
Official Site: Land of Talk

4 comments:

justin said...

thanks for coming out to the show and GREAT recap!

nghia said...

glad that you had a great time. fantastic!

music is art said...

aww roland! you made me wish to be there... cant wait til mahogany comes back to nyc, they are amazing :)

fiii*fi said...

aww . i´m from Puerto Rico and I miss Balún. I´m going to try and go over there to visit soon. you should keep me up to date with those shows. jaja.
att
fifi

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