Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Pretty In Black

I’m sometimes completely arbitrary in what I choose to listen to or not listen to. Case in point – The Raveonettes, who had the misfortune to arrive on the scene around the same time as the White Stripes and who thus fell victim to my ban on garage-rock duos. Don’t bother explaining to me how that’s irrational and unfair – as I said, completely arbitrary. But that’s how it was that I went into Sunday night’s show at Lee’s Palace almost completely unfamiliar with the band. I’d heard the elevator pitch – Jesus & Mary Chain meets ’50s girl groups, recorded an album written completely in b-flat minor – but aside from the samples on their MySpace, they were a complete tabula rasa. But then, I wasn’t there to see them. It was the presence of tourmates Nicole Atkins & The Sea that got me out of the house and while any excuse to have them play is a good one as far as I’m concerned, they did seem an odd match for the headliners.

Gliss, on the other hand, were a perfectly logical fit. The trio reminded me more than a little of fellow Los Angelenos Autolux with their lumbering, psychedelic dream-rock. Obviously an outfit that believes in instrumental socialism, each of them took turns behind the drum kit and occasionally handling lead vocals from back there while the others handled guitar and bass. They gave full effort for their whole set despite being obviously dismayed at the sparse and only mildly interested crowd. They have my sympathies there, but it was early on a Sunday night and I think that if you have to explicitly ask the audience to come up front and dance, you’ve already lost.

I’d like to say that Nicole Atkins’ set won over everyone in the club as it was good enough that in a perfect world it would have, but considering that Atkins’ aesthetic is almost a polar opposite from the Raveonettes, that band’s fanbase might not be the most inclined to take to her unabashedly BIG songs. And with The Sea coming out with the most energy of the three times I’ve seen them this year (and none of the other shows was wanting for energy), they delivered the songs in a big way. And considering the long, winding road that’s been leading up to the release of Neptune City in two weeks, it figures that they’d be in top shape as a live outfit. Playing almost all of the album and throwing in a cover of The Doors’ “Crystal Ship”, Atkins sounded marvelous and… you know what? I’ve run out of ways to praise her so I’ll just stop trying, though I’m going to have to try at least one more time as she’s back – again – on November 18 at Lee’s opening for The Pipettes.

Which brings us back to the Raveonettes. The club was nearly full by the time they took the stage, which was obviously heartening for the band considering that they were a few years removed from their last album and while their new one, Lust Lust Lust, is going to be out in Europe next month there’s no North American release scheduled until early next year. As such, I was probably one of the few curious in attendance as opposed to the converted. With the band consisting only of principals Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo on guitars and vocals and a drummer on two-piece kit (tom, snare), skeletal was the word of the day though they did dress it up in a billowy coat of fuzz and reverb.

I think the problem with having such a strongly defined aesthetic is that while if you love it, you’ll love all of it, if you aren’t convinced there aren’t a lot of different angles from which you can approach it. And so for the duration of their hour-long set, there were moments that caught my interest – the Stereolab cover came with a most welcome increase in BPM – but for the most part, it all sounded very samey and wasn’t especially engaging. But the fact that the material introduced as being from the new album sounded most interesting to me could be a good sign and there still a future for me and the Raveonettes. Just not yet.

eye was also in attendance and offers some thoughts on the Raveonettes’ set with many more words than I, some of them bigger.

Photos: The Raveonettes, Nicole Atkins & The Sea, Gliss @ Lee’s Palace – October 14, 2007
MP3: Nicole Atkins & The Sea – “Party’s Over”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Bleeding Diamonds”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Carouselle”
Video: The Raveonettes – “Attack Of The Ghost Riders” (YouTube)
Video: The Raveonettes – “That Great Love Song” (YouTube)
Video: Nicole Atkins & The Sea – “The Way It Is” (MySpace)
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City” (YouTube)
Video: Gliss – “Kissing The Blvd” (YouTube)
Video: Gliss – “Halfway Gone” (YouTube)
Stream: Nicole Atkins & The Sea / Neptune City
MySpace: The Raveonettes
MySpace: Nicole Atkins
MySpace: Gliss

I mentioned that I was pleased to hear that Nicole Atkins was opening for The Pipettes next month – here’s some other support act news that helped perk up my Monday. Ohbijou’s November 9 show at Lee’s went from a “must-see” to “really must see” with the news that in addition to Bruce Peninsula, who were terrific at Dog Day Afternoon, Basia Bulat is now also going to be performing. Additionally, Bruce Peninsula will be opening for The Acorn at the Horseshoe on November 24 along with kalimba queen Laura Barrett. Also one to file under “really must see”. Factoid – Ohbijou’s Casey Mecjia provides the vocals on the final track of The Acorn’s Glory Hope Mountain.

And Basia Bulat is currently on tour out west with Final Fantasy. The Globe & Mail has a nice little feature on Basia while The Torture Garden and Vue have interviews with Owen Pallett and Trendwhore has the audio from his Pop Montreal showcase from a couple weeks ago.

The Cornell Sun talks to New Pornographer John Collins, So Much Silence has an MP3 of the band playing “Myriad Harbour” at KCRW last month and the video for the title track from the new album is now available. They’re at the Phoenix this Sunday night.

Video: The New Pornographers – “Challengers” (YouTube)

The New Pollution documents The Besnard Lakes’ adventures in America.

Feist tells Metro.co.uk she didn’t get a free iPod out of the Apple commercial. Just bags of money.

By : Frank Yang at 8:46 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Mike says:

    As a fan of the Raveonettes, and an understanding of the reference points of their influences, I still can’t get into the live playing of live-playing of standup drumkits. Not only are they too minimal, and make for a less energetic live show than a full drumkit and drummer.

    If only you had been there to see the ‘Nettes play with a full band (full drummer, live bass player, not canned stuff) as a four and five peice that last two time they played here. So much more exciting.

    Geez, not even the JAMC play with drummers anymore!

  2. Ike says:

    Wow, my above comment needed a little proof reading.

    What I mean to say is, JAMC play with a drummer and full drum kit while playing live nowadays (as seen on their recent Letterman performance), why did the Raves have to go back in time to that 80s era, instead of continuing on their path from their usual band set up of a few years ago?

    On another funny sidenote, the superfans of local outfit Love Kills, and the band themselves were all in attendance. I heard someone in their camp wonder aloud if the stand-up drumkit that the Raves were playing was an homage to Love Kills ("like maybe they checked them out on myspace or something and got inspired to use a stand up drumkit").

  3. Frank says:

    part of it could also be budgetary – the Raveonettes are no longer on a major and almost certainly don’t have the tour support they once did. now whether the extra costs of a stool and kick drum are that great is up to you…

  4. Gary says:

    The Stereolab cover that the Raveonettes have been playing live is "French Disko" for anyone who cares.

  5. Jerad says:

    I saw the Raveonettes earlier this year at my bachelor party in Boston. Unfortunately, I remember very little of the band’s show, but the two main members did scrawl something in Swedish on my t-shirt. I think they seemed like pretty nice people. They’re definitely on my list of bands to which I should give a good, sober chance.

  6. Matt says:

    I saw them last night in Columbus, Ohio and the energy was amazing!! Best show I have seen and I’ve seen my fair share in 37 years…Great chemistry between Sune and Sharin. New material was awesome!!