Au Revoir Simone | Union Pool | 4.13.2009


One of the things I like about Au Revoir Simone, beyond the obvious reasons you like any band or artist, is that they don't try to be anything they're not. There's no attempt to compete with the Ladyhawkes, Little Boots, or even Lykke Li's of the world. Not that they don't like that sort of more overt dance music — I'm pretty sure they do in general — or that they would be bad at it if they tried (see the remix of Friendly Fire's "Paris" which is better than the original). It's just not what they do.

While Erika, Annie and Heather all play keyboards and there are drum machines, you never feel like Au Revoir Simone are electronic. It's more of a pastoral, minimal, organic, dreamy. And live. They play pretty much everything live when you go see them, which becomes apparent when there's a goof, and that's so much more interesting that seeing someone peer at their laptop, wondering whether they're actually doing something or checking Facebook.

There were a couple goofs (nothing major) at Monday's show at Union Hall, but the crowd was mostly friends from the neighborhood, and the girls (and the audience) laughed it off with much charm. It was more a party than the launching of a World Tour. Which it kind of was. Au Revoir Simone are now in Europe, starting a three-month, multi-continent exursion to which Union Pool was a warm up. So the set was mostly songs from their new album, Still Night, Still Light, which comes out next month.  

Fine , I think it's their best yet. Despite being produced by Thom Monahan, who specializes in neo folikes like Vetiver and Devendra Banhart, the record is mandolin and banjo-free. If anything, it's more stripped-down than either of their two previous releases, and maybe that's why it works so well live. The album's best songs were the night's highlights too, especially first single "Shadows" and set-closer "Knight of Wands," which I couldn't resist joining in on the "clap clap" in the intro. Annie Hart tossed promo copies into the audience in between songs, nearly taking out an eye or two, but mild lacerations seem a small price to pay for getting an early listen.

SETLIST: All or Nothing | Sad Song | Another Likely Story | Shadows | Anwhere You Looked | Take Me As I Am | Trace a Line | Lark | Tell Me | Knight of Wands

MP3: Au Revoir Simone – Knight of Wands

You can pre-order Still Night, Still Light from Au Revoir Simone's website — including what looks to be a pretty sweet 10" double vinyl version. I shot video of "Shadows" at the show, which is after the jump, along with all posted tour dates. 

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Mosho Moshi Presents: Casiokids + Slow Club + Mumford & Sons | Cameo | 3.15.2009



The weekend before the South by Southwest music festival, New York get's its own mini-version of it, with bands from Australia, UK, Europe and Canada all making pit-stops here before heading down to Austin. The folks from London indie label Moshi Moshi threw a party last night that actually felt like you were already at the fest. The crowd was littered with other bands (Bjorn Yttling of PBJ, Dev "Lightspeed Champion" Hines, members of Post War Years and The Promised Us Jetpacks) and you had to walk through a restaurant to get to the "venue." It was a fun night.

Mumford and Sons can really sing and hearing their four-part harmonies, which they hit you with immediately upon taking stage, knocks you back a bit. It's a bit like Fleet Foxes in that way, though there's more depth to M&S's voices. Musically, though, these Londoners are nothing like those Sub Pop folkies, with a soulful bluegrass/celtic bent and some really nice songs from frontman Marcus Johnstone. There was a lot of instrument switching and tuning of banjos and mandolins, which made for some downtime in between songs, and they joked about this: "This is New York," intoned banjo player Winston, imitating some record label type. "Don't fuck it up." Though harmonies are key, Marcus' voice in particular is very strong, and the Nick Drake comparisons he's probably sick of are fairly appropriate. He is also a hell of a drummer, which he used to do in Laura Marling's band, and did so here for Mumford and Sons final number of the night.

MP3: Mumford and Sons – Sister

Mumford and Sons play Mercury Lounge tonight at 9:30. Definitely worth checking out, especially with the club's nice sound system. Their debut album, Notes from the Treehouse, is out in April in the UK.

Slow Club were next and pretty much charmed the pants off everyone. It will take much restraint to write about them and not repeatedly type the words "charming" "cute." But they are sooo cute. And their songs are sooo charming. The boy/girl dynamic here is just about perfect with Rebecca on vocal/drums and Charles on vocals/guitar and have more than are done in he-said-she-said style. There's also a melancholy streak (not unlike Emmy the Great) that keeps things from being, you know, cute overload. I'm not sure they've quite captured their charm on record (maybe their holiday single "Christmas TV" which they performed sans amplification) but you just smile the whole time while watching them. 

MP3: Slow Club – Christmas TV

Slow Club play the Delancey tonight and its a free show with fellow Brits Post War Years and We Have Band, who I also saw this weekend and are worth checking out. And if you have proof of unemployment there's a free shot of tequila waiting for you. 

The band I was most looking forward to seeing was Norway's Casiokids who played my single favorite performance during CMJ 2008. But this was not Casiokids finest hour. A new club, Cameo was having some sound problems and frontman Ketil was clearly distracted by it. But the short set gained steam as it went and by the time they played both sides of their great new Moshi Moshi single "Verdens Storste Land" and "Fot I Hose" the crowd was dancing. Casiokids play tonight at the Bell House, which has a great soundsystem, so that shouldn't be a problem. They also play tomorrow at the Annex. Go see them if you can.

MP3: Casiokids – Verdens Storste Land (Buy from Moshi Moshi)

Cameo is located in the back of the Lovin' Cup Cafe (which used to be Anytime) and is a nice little space that maybe holds about 100 people. It was a little too dark for my tastes, and there was a discoball that was only used for about ten minutes. But it's new and they'll figure it out. It's a welcome addition to the neighborhood.