CMJ 2006 | Figurines | Mercury Lounge
After seeing the Knife at Webster Hall, I opted not to deal with the velvet rope and dress requirements at fancypants Chelsea club Bed (where Fields were playing), opting instead to head straight over to Mercury Lounge to see Denmark’s best band not on the Crunchy Frog label, Figurines. (Dinner at Village Yokocho first, actually. Highly recommended before or after your next visit to Webster Hall.)
The band’s second album, Skeleton, has slowly been creeping up my list of favorite records of 2006. I think I like it so much because it reminds me of everything I listened to when I finished school in 1995: Superchunk, Built to Spill, Pavement, Unrest, The 3D’s… your basic melodic indie rock. Figurines do it exceptionally well, however, and songs like "I Remember," "Silver Ponds" and "All Night" are pretty irresistible.
Figurines frontman Christian Hjelm, looking like a lumberjack with skinny jeans, came out first and performed a couple songs solo before bringing out the rest of the band, who then powered through a compact 40-minute set that hit most of Skeleton‘s best bones, plus a couple songs from their 2004 album Shake a Mountain. It used to be that the terms "indie" and "shambolic" were interchangeable, but Figurines were as tight as they were loud. And they were loud, but the sound was clear (it was Mercury Lounge, after all) so the vocals and harmonies weren’t obscured in the mix. Hjelm voice is a bit odd, slightly nasal, yet weirdly appealing to me. And he’s a really good guitarist to boot. Highlights were, perhaps unsurprisingly, "Silver Ponds," "I Remember" and "Continuous Songs."
The schedule was running late, and I had jury duty the next day (where I am typing this from right now), so I had to leave before seeing laptop wonder Girltalk. But I did however catch the previous band, a bunch of overly enthusiastic youngsters from Michigan who go by the name Canada. Probably because they love the Arcade Fire, who they tried desperately hard to be. It felt more like the Dave Matthews band to me — don’t skip your classes kids, the music thing might not work out. At least call yourselves something else. You’re giving a country that has spent the last ten years trying not to be synonymous with Celine Dion, Brian Adams and Glass Tiger a bad name.
Photo swiped from Baonguyen‘s Flickr photostream.