Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

In Front Of The House

Philadelphians Human Television would have had a reasonable excuse for being out of sorts for their first Canadian show – a lightly-attended Monday night gig at Sneaky Dee’s coming at the tail end of a North American tour that’s kept them out on the road for over a month would be tough for anyone to get psyched for. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the card that they’d need to play to explain away their lacklustre performance.

From what I’ve heard of their debut full-length Look At Who Your Talking To, I’d expected a high-energy, youthful pop dynamo that could easily shake off any road fatigue. There’s no denying their songs are sweet, janglesome and relentlessly hooky but the band that was on stage playing them on Monday was almost catatonic. Seriously, it was like a black hole of stage presence up there and almost uncomfortable to watch – no one moved, almost every song was introduced with, “this next song is called…” and while the actual execution of the songs was fine, there was no joy behind them – just workmanlike proficiency. They did loosen up a bit towards the end of the set, even straying from script to talk to the crowd (just a little) and work up some dorky charm, but really too little too late. Really a shame, because the songs are great and deserve better presentation that this. Maybe this show was an anomaly but from this Village Voice piece, it doesn’t sound like a scintillating live show is a real high priority for these guys. Ah well.

The local openers fared better. The Amber Room, a group of Vancouverites relocated to the Big Smoke, have been around since 2001 so you can’t really accuse them of being johnny-come-latelys to the whole Joy Division/Chameleons tribute act scene but they’ve got the membership cards nonetheless. The tunes didn’t really impress but they gave it their all despite having a mostly-empty room to play for. And they come by their skinny Brit affectations honestly – the singer actually is a skinny Brit.

Middle act The Early Morning had some technical difficulties that truncated their set and got them started a little wobbly. From where I was standing, the singer was having real pitch issues and the trio was not terrifically in synch with their drum machine. When you’re playing with programmed beats, you really have to be spot on because it’s not going to adjust and let you catch up. Thankfully for the band, they got sorted out about midway through and were pretty solid for the rest of their show. They’re a little hard to describe – Magnetic Fields raised on Jesus & Mary Chain instead of Tin Pan Alley? Electro and a little goth-y.

Human Television’s Billy Downing talks to about their new record. Gig photos here. Check out media from all the bands on the bill below. And say that 10 times fast.

MP3: Human Television – “I Laughed”
MP3: Human Television – “In Front Of The House”
MP3: The Early Morning – “I Won’t Forget This”
MP3: The Amber Room – “Secrets”
Video: Human Television – “In Front Of The House” (MOV)
Video: Human Television – “Look At Who You’re Talking To” (MOV)
MySpace: Human Television
MySpace: The Amber Room
MySpace: The Early Morning

BrooklynVegan offers up an interview with Jens Lekman. The New York Times enjoyed one of his always-enjoyable shows.

And thanks to Stereogum for pointing out that Little Miss Sunshine is more than just the new Greg Kinnear film. Not that you’d need any reason beyond that to see it opening night, but it’s also scored by DeVotchKa. Bonus. Note that on the film’s website there’s places to sign up for free first-come, first-serve screenings of the film which opens today. FREE GREG KINNEAR. It’s like Christmas in July.

Trailer: Little Miss Sunshine
Video: DeVotchKa – “Til The End Of Time”

The Beautiful South will be at the Phoenix on November 1. I really used to like these guys. In high school I played the tape I had of Welcome To The Beautiful South to death. DEATH. These days, not so much.

Pitchfork reports that Mat Cooke Brooke has left Band Of Horses, which was pretty evident from his absence on their recent tour.

np – Lambchop / Damaged

By : Frank Yang at 8:47 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. RSL says:

    <cite>Little Miss Sunshine</cite> [or at least the trailer] also features a certain Sufjan. Musically, of course.

  2. RSL says:

    Oops. No HTML allowed I guess. Sorry.

  3. Thierry says:

    Thanks a lot for the info on the free screenings! Greg Kinnear + Steve Carrell + DeVotchKa = exciting!

  4. matthew says:

    Don’t tell people about the free screenings! At least not until after the first one is done…I don’t want to have to wait in too long a line to get in!

  5. Frank says:

    too late, matthew. there’s cats, there’s bags, it’s bedlam in here.

  6. claire says:

    i feel you on human television. i was truly excited when i discovered their records, they’re both totally excellent throwbacks to a lot of music. that kind of jangle/fuzz pop goes down easier than a diet dr. pepper, especially this time of year. they came through my town recently, and although there were some highpoints, the show was afflicted by a lot of the same problems you identify. when the (admittedly small) crowd asked for an encore, they came back with a really sloppy cover of "dream" by the everly brothers. let’win them any new fans. maybe they are still too used to opening for other bands.

  7. bill p says:

    I like Human Television on record quite a bit, but they have always been lackluster live — I’ve seen them maybe four times. They’re young… hopefully they’ll get it together.

  8. mike says:

    I might go see The Beautiful South. Thanks for the tip. I’d hope they’d play some Housemartins’ songs though.

  9. max says:

    oh yes human television, some wonderfuly jangly power=pop for this thankfuly chilly morning

  10. chris says:

    Cooke? Brooke?


  11. Rich says:

    I heard that Human Television were fantastic a month ago here in ATL. I missed the set though, so I can’t say for myself.

    Also, Little Miss Sunshine is fantastic. Caught a screening last week.