Tuesday, June 5th, 2007
I’m going to preface this review by saying that exhaustion and jet lag probably doesn’t make for the best mental state for trying to review a show, for good or ill, so let me just put that caveat out there.
Loney, Dear’s North American debut Loney, Noir has been one of the more pleasant discoveries of 2007 and having caught them play a compact set at SxSW back in March I knew that it translated very well live so I was willing to caffeinate as necessary to make it to the band’s show at Lee’s Palace on Sunday night.
Support for the show was Toronto’s own Guest Bedroom. An odd match for Loney, Dear’s gentle orch-pop, they turned in a set of moderately aggressive post-punk from their debut EP Movement. Frontwoman Sandi Falconer’s urgent howling sounds not unlike early PJ Harvey or Forget Cassettes’ Beth Cameron while musically, the creepy carnival keyboards recalled Walkmen forebears Jonathan Fire*Eater. Maybe some other night I’d have been more receptive to their abrasive (though not without a softish underbelly) sound but not so much this one.
Radio Free Canuckistan has done a pretty bang-up job of capturing the charm of Emil Svanangen and his crew on the occasion of their Canadian debut so I’ll just add some comments on top of his. One of the things that I found most interesting was how the songs were subtly but completely rearranged from the album versions, full of orchestral flourishes and performed entirely by Svanangen, and rejigged for the five-piece band. Live, the songs were leaner and much more vocal-centric – not only with Svanangen’s lost Gibb brother falsetto but the lush three- and four-part harmonies contributed by the other band members. They also weren’t shy about indulging in a capella vocal breakdowns, all “da da das” and “la las”.
I was also rather surprised that the set list ranged well beyond just Loney, Noir and into their back catalog, much to the delight of some hardcore fans in attendance. And it’s not that Svanangen could have known that there’d be old schoolers in the audience who’d appreciate it – he seemed genuinely surprised that anyone was there at all, let alone the modest but enthusiastic crowd who came out to see them play and demand two encores (and it’s a good thing, lest “Sinister In A State Of Hope” be left unplayed). So while I would probably have been perfectly happy to just hear the new album played live, the wealth of unfamiliar material on display and reconfigurations of the stuff I did know made the show a bit more demanding than I’d expected but probably also that much more satisfying. But I think my favourite part of the show was simply watching how gratified the band were to get such a warm response from the audience. A nice cozy show and a good way to ease back into reality for me.
Photos: Loney, Dear, The Guest Bedroom @ Lee’s Palace – June 3, 2007
MP3: Loney, Dear – “I Am John”
MP3: Loney, Dear – “A Few Good Men”
MP3: The Guest Bedroom – “Fake Flowers”
MP3: The Guest Bedroom – “We Need Trips”
Video: Loney, Dear – “I Am John” (YouTube)
Video: Loney, Dear – “Saturday Waits” (YouTube)
MySpace: Loney, Dear
MySpace: The Guest Bedroom
If you’re looking for something to do tonight (besides see The National at the Opera House), maybe head over to the Phoenix for the White Ribbon Benefit Concert, now thankfully Tea Party-free. This year the theme is Heart of Gold: The Music Of Neil Young and as implied, it will feature a wide roster of artists including Luke Doucet, Ron Sexsmith and Justin Rutledge covering the songs of Neil Young (though I suspect “A Man Needs A Maid” might get skipped over on this evening). Tickets are $25 in advance.
Some new release news – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will release Is Is on July 24, Eisley’s sophomore record Combinations is out August 14 and Rilo Kiley’s Under The Blacklight will be out on August 21 – Billboard has details.
Billboard also has news of another Ryan Adams release to go along with Easy Tiger, out June 26. This one’s a box set compiling some of the unreleased material from the last few years. No title, release date or track listing available yet, just the fact that it’s being planned.
Spinner has got a studio session and interview with Wilco that’s worth watching. And for more reading, check out interviews with the band in Harp, Mother Jones, The Age, Perth Now, Stuff and The Independent. Media saturation? Maybe just a little. Wilco are at Massey Hall on June 30.
The New Yorker talks to Steve Earle about his new album Washington Square Serenade. Earle will also be performing Tom Waits’ “Way Down In The Hole”, the theme song for The Wire this season. I’m almost done season two. Gotta get caught up before the fifth and final season starts!
Hungary photos are now up.