The Wild Life

Wildbeasts

Wild Beast's second album, Two Dancers, is out today in the U.S. and you should get it — it's pretty brilliant. Mixing a variety of post punk influences with the very distinctive vocals of guitarist Hayden Thorpe and bassist Tom Flemming. Most reviews of Wild Beasts tend to focus on Thorpe, whose pipes are kind of like a less sad bastard version of Antony's. A bit of an aquired taste, but I think it's rather tempered here, at least compared to last year's debut, Limbo Panto. But all the talk of shrieking doesn't leave much time to talk about the music, which is slinky, sexy, understated and anchored by an incredible rhythm section — seriously, the drumming here is out-of-this-world. On tracks like "All the Kings Men," "We Still Got the Taste Dancing on Our Tongues" and the title track they're almost like a new pop cabaret version of The Sound or The Chameleons. Two Dancers will definitely be on my Best of 2009 list.

MP3: Wild Beasts – All the King's Men (Buy Two Dancers from Domino

Wild Beasts are in town this week playing three shows, the first of which is tonight at Joe's Pub. They also play Mercury Lounge on Thursday (tickets) and Union Pool on Friday (no advance tickets, unfortunately). It's a busy week for shows, but you should definitely make room for Wild Beasts.

Here's the video for "All the Kings Men":

And here's a video by interpretive dancers Little Stolen Moments did for the song:

Au Revoir Simone | Union Pool | 4.13.2009

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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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Sound Bites Best of 2008: Gigs

"Seeing Jarvis Cocker makes you realize that almost all other bands are chumps. This is how it's done. This is a show. This is charisma. This is It. You can't take your eyes off him. My #1 show of 2007 was his show at Webster Hall (and I hate Webster Hall) and this one was better."

And also these…

"Featuring members of infamous garage rock collective CPC Gangbangs, this was Red Mass' first-ever live show and clearly they wanted to make a statement. As their name would suggest, Red Mass were about 10 strong and all-clad in red… apart from the one dude who wore only a Speedo and gold paint."

"The Muslims played an astounding 10 shows during CMJ, and this was the last… despite being obviously tired and guitarist Matty McLoughlin having his fingers wrapped in black electrical tape because he'd busted them open repeatedly over the week, with blood spattered all over his guitar, they played like it was their first show of the week."

Casiokids | Cake Shop | 10.25.2008

"…It was at this point that Ketil squeezed through their wall of keyboards, past the monitors and got face-to-face with the crowd, basically standing directly in front of me the whole time. My friend Erin said it looked like I was being serenaded."

Late of the Pier | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 10.22.2008

"These are youngsters but they rock like pros, pulling off the guitar heroics, the funky parts, everything. And we danced to it. Even more than the Klaxons, Late of the Pier seem to truly come from outer space. But they make it seem like the most natural thing on earth."

Women | Cake Shop | 10.21.2008

"Women are so much better live than on record. The album, while good, is a little too drenched in Animal Collective-style reverb, while onstage (or in Cake Shop's case, the floor) they hit pretty hard."

Kirsten Ketsjer | Lit Lounge | 10.16.2008

"This is the definition of power trio (not to compare them to Cream or anything, there's no bass), three as one — you know, very New Testament but in a rock sort of way… If you like Velvet Underground, Television, Bettie Serveert, the Greatful Dead, Marnie Stern, metal, indie rock, Denmark, spoken word, noodling, no-bass bands, twin-leads, or Nordic good looks… this might be the band for you."

This was a swoon-worthy night. The Bunnymen are 30 this year, hence this celebration of what they consider their crowning achievement with three shows: London, New York, and their hometown of Liverpool."The Killing Moon" is what a lot of people were there to hear, and many unbelievably left after that, but for me it was the album's more obscure gems that made my knees a bit weak. 

"Main Oh See John Dwyer is one of those mike eaters, it spending more time in his mouth than not, all the better to get that overdriven, distorted vocal sound. But I wouldn't want to be the band that used it after them. He's also a Give 100% performer, who slams his guitars around and whose eyes bug out a little when he sings. The rest of the band are no slouches either (they've got a whalloper of a drummer) and there was a nice interplay between Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees' other singer, Brigid Dawson. They played their hearts out."

BOAT | Cake Shop | 8.17.2008

"If BOAT lived here instead of Seattle I have a feeling they'd be my favorite local band.  All their songs are catchy, and funny without being jokes. The band also has good stage banter and a penchant for props — big signs, confetti and shakers made out of Solo cups."

Witch Hats | Santos Party House | 8.11.2008

"Witch Hats really benefit from clear sound; the sludge turns into organized noise, even if it's just as loud. (Super loud!) It still takes a minute or two for hooks to break through the chaos, but they are there. Witch Hats are wild but with purpose, a bit gothy without looking the part, and possess a wise-ass sense of humor."

Metronomy | Union Hall | 8.01.2008

"Metronomy are better live than you think they're going to be. It probably has something to do with the stick-it-and-clickit lights they had affixed to their chests. Aware that they are three dudes playing keyboards and guitars and bass (and occasionally saxaphone and melodica) with no drummer and a fair amount of pre-programmed music, they know you have to give the audience something more if you want them to actually pay attention to you."

"We are in the midst of a heatwave here in New York with temperatures in the upper '90s during the day and only dropping to around 80 at night. I have spent a lot of it in semi-legal performance spaces with zero air conditioning. There has been a lot of sweating but Sic Alps were the first band I've seen all week that made it feel like the heat was being generated from the stage."

P
ants Yell! | Pianos | 6.13.2008

"A tight cohesive trio with a beast of a drummer, Pants Yell! were on fire in the packed room. On their excellent third album from late last year, Alison Statton, they sound polite, but live it's more hyperkinetic. You could even say they rocked."

"I texted my friend Don before they started: "There are like 10 girls here. Five are bartenders, the rest are here against their will." I was excited to see Swervedriver's first NYC show in ten years, but all this, um, dudeness was freaking me out. But then Swervedriver came out and just killed it. Like the last ten years never happened. Jaw-droppingly, why-aren't-you-still-a-band-and-making-records good."

"I know this wasn't the coolest show of the night (Sigur Ros) or the coolest show of Love Is All's visit (Cake Shop or Market Hotel win over this) but what show! And band-for-band one of the best I've seen this year."

Violens + Savoir Adore + Amazing Baby | Union Pool | 5.10.2008
"It pleases me greatly to go into a show mostly blind and come out a fan of every band on the bill. That never happens anymore. Maybe I'm just going to the wrong shows."

"This was the first night of their American tour for Elbow's great, just-released fourth album, The Seldom-Seen Kid which is full of the heartfelt mini-epics the band are so good at. Joined on this tour by two violist/backup singers, Elbow were grander than usual, but it was Garvey's charm, humor, and smokey voice that makes people lifetime fans."

"Liela Moss is a pistol. As much as you wanted to check out the rest of the band, it was hard to take your eyes off her. She knows what she's got and she knows how to work it. There is no doubt Moss is beautiful, but she's got the pipes to match and, obviously, a stage presence to hold it all together. Moss held the crowd but certainly the rest of the band kept her up. A lot of crushes were made Wednesday night but The Duke Spirit are the total package."

Liars | Warsaw | 2.09.2008

At 6-foot-somethingorother, Liars front man Angus Andrew is a magnetic, kind of menacing presence. Even in a raspberry colored suit. While sitting down. As you may have heard, Andrew threw out his back shortly before Liars were to begin their current tour with No Age so he's being doing the shows from a chair. (The accompanying table is a nice touch.) For some bands this might have been a major setback but it didn't seem to affect Liars' ferocious performance at Warsaw one iota.

"Jeepers, how good are The 1900s? It's been almost two years since I saw them open for Midlake at Mercury Lounge and had kind of forgotten how good they are. And they've gotten better since. Watching last night's fantastic show at Union Hall makes me wonder why I left their album Cold & Kind off my Best of 2007 list." 

CMJ 2008: The Muslims | Fader Fort, Pianos, Union Pool | 10.2008

MuslimsFADER
MuslimsPIANOS

MuslimsUP

Was talking to a fellow blogger after seeing The Muslims at the Fader Fort and asked him what he thought. “Unoriginal,” he replied. That’s kind of beside the point, I think. Originality can only get you so far, and it’s OK if you’re playing garage rock if you’ve got songs as good as The Muslims’. Plus, they’ve got the one thing you absolutely cannot fake — attitude. They’ve got bucketfuls of it.

The Muslims played an astounding 10 shows during CMJ and I ended up catching three of them, the best being the technically post-CMJ show at Union Pool on Sunday where the relaxed crowd (which seemed to include every band that hadn’t gone home already) had nowhere else to go and were there just to rock out. It was also a longer show and we got a couple more than the six song set they’d honed for CMJ, including both sides of their new single — “Parsites” and the blazing cover of Spacemen 3’s “Walking With Jesus.” Despite being obviously tired and guitarist Matty McLoughlin having his fingers wrapped in black electrical tape because he’d busted them open repeatedly over the week, with blood spattered all over his guitar, they played like it was their first show of the week.

MP3Muslims – Bright Side 

MP3Muslims – Parasites 

Buy some Muslims, won’t you?

And here’s video I shot of them performing “Beside Myself” at the Brooklyn Vegan day party at Knitting Factory:

Noah and the Whale | Union Pool | 9.16.2008

Notw_UP "We're breaking our own rules tonight," admitted Noah and the Whale singer Charlie Fink. "Normally, there are no electric guitars or crash cymbals but as we're in America we thought we'd rock out a little." Of course, "rock out" is a relative term with a band like Noah and the Whale who spend most of their time on the twee side of a genre (folk pop) that's already pretty gentle, what with the harmonium and violin.

This was Noah and the Whale's first NYC show, the same date as the Stateside release of their debut album, and you could tell by the smiles on their faces that they were psyched to be playing here. The feeling was mutual as the Londoners charmed the pants off the crowd who seemed to me more genuine fans than cross-armed industry types. Great show.

Augmented with a horn section, they gave us pretty much the entirety of their debut, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, plus two new songs, one of which ("If We Sold a Million") was from a second album the band recorded in three days, that Fink described as their "punk album" but, again, that's only relative to the band. Many, including me, thought we might get an appearance by Laura Marling, who played the night before at Bowery Ballroom. She sings on their UK hit "Five Years Time" and Fink produced her debut album. But no luck, instead opener Lindi Ortega came out to sing backup.

I was curious to see how "Five Years Time" would go over. One of the catchiest songs of the year, it's so hooky and sunny and whistle-filled that the burnout factor is high, especially when it's also in a Saturn comercial that seems to air constantly. Yet when the opening ukelele hit, everyone perked up and it was definitely one of highlights of the show. Never count out a perfect pop song.

MP3: Noah and the Whale – Give a Little Love (buy it)

The show ended with a cover of "Girlfriend in a Coma," one of the better Smiths covers I've heard. I shot video:

New York has three more chances to see Noah and the Whale. They also play anti-folk homebass Sidewalk Cafe on Thursday, and then at Virgin Megastore on Saturday afternoon and Mercury Lounge on Saturday night (sold out). And then more U.S. dates:

Sep 18 Sidewalk Cafe (FREE SHOW)     New York, NY
Sep 19 Virgin Megastore (12:30pm)
Sep 19 Mercury Lounge     New York, NY
Sep 20 Newbury Comics     Boston/Norwood, Massachusetts
Sep 20 Toad (FREE SHOW)     Boston, MA
Sep 22 The Saint (FREE SHOW)     Montreal, Que
Sep 23 Horseshoe Tavern (FREE SHOW)     Toronto, ONT
Sep 25 Av-Aerie (ALL AGES)     Chicago, IL
Sep 26 Reckless Records (Instore)     Chicago, Illinois
Sep 26 Empty Bottle     Chicago, IL
Sep 29 Chop Suey (FREE SHOW)     Seattle, WA
Sep 30 Doug Fir (FREE SHOW)     Portland, OR
Oct 2 Amoeba Music (Instore)     San Francisco, California
Oct 2 Pop Scene at 330 Ritch     San Francisco, CA
Oct 4 Detour Festival     Los Angeles, CA
Oct 6 Spaceland (FREE SHOW)     Los Angeles, CA

Amazing Baby + The Blacks + Suckers | Union Pool | 8.16.2008

Ab01

This was the after-party to an all-day scavenger hunt hosted by music mag Death & Taxes magazine. Teams spent four hours running around New York finding stuff, some of which included various forms of alcohol. Before the bands was a two-hour free-booze-and-tacos BBQ, so needless to say the crowd was well-lubricated and some didn't make it to the headlining set of Amazing Baby. Me, I skipped the scavenger hunt and BBQ and showed up just in time for the bands. An early show (7:30 or so), especially for Union Pool, and easily the most on-time show I've ever seen there. I love the actual venue; the lax way they run the non-posted schedule, not so much.

Ab02
This was the fourth time I've seen Amazing Baby since their live debut in May and each one has been a slightly different line-up, centering around a core of singer William Roan, guitarists Simon O'Connor and Rob Laasko and drummer Matt Abeysekera. We seen a backup singer leave and return, and original member Leah Carey seems to be gone now. Most recent change, bassist Jane Herships is now playing with Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. She was front and center in the crowd at this show, though. "I'm the only fan who knows all the words," she told me afterward. And the only one who knows how to play the songs.

Amazing Baby have managed to keep things fairly low-key in the nine months they've been together, despite being the recipient of Mark Ronson's praise and being named on of NME's 25 Bands Making America Cool Again, which is good as they've only got about eight songs. And they've only been a band for nine months. (Amazing baby indeed.) Four of those songs are available on the Infinite Fucking Cross EP which you can download from their website for free. It's the same songs they had as free downloads on their MySpace page four months ago (with a shorter version of "Pump Yr Breaks" and no "Infinite Palace"), but if you haven't picked them up yet do it now. It's good stuff.

They've wisely turned down a couple small tours with big-ish bands in favor of sticking around Brooklyn to work on new material  — though the they will tour with MGMT (with whom they're friends and once shared a drummer) and Violens in the UK. (How do you turn that down?) Hopefully they won't come back with too big heads.

MP3: Amazing Baby – Invisible Palace

Theblacks
But I digress. Back to the show. The Blacks, who I've written about before and are palls with the D&T crew, flew in from San Francisco just to play this show. On record, they're not that far off from Yeah Yeah Yeahs or The Cramps or any number of No Wave-influenced groups. Good songs, for sure, but  maybe not 100% distinctive. Live, however, there is only one Blacks, thanks to tambourine player JDK Blacker. He is like Animal from the Muppet Show if he poured all the energy of playing a drumkit into just one tambourine. I bet he could hand crank ice cream in record time.

Suckers
Opening the show was Suckers, which is the live incarnation of Quinn Walker whose double album Laughter's an Asshole/Land Lion garnered a 7.3 from Pitchfork and love from Stereogum. The main thing I remember about the album is the cover, depicting Quinn as a Viking puking a technicolor rainbow. Actually, there are some pretty good songs on it, like a folky Dan Deacon — a hodgepodge of ideas where the only cohesive theme seems to be banning of the word "No." As wacky as the album is you'd expect some shenanigans when Suckers play live, but after two times seeing them live (the first was the Stereogum party at Market Hotel with SF's awesome Girls) I have to say they're kind of boring, the most distinguishing aspect being Walker's vocal intonations which sounded a lot like Axel Rose. (To be fair, Suckers seemed to be down a member and they were better the last time.) A couple big No Nos in my book: everyone was sitting…rock bands don't sit! They also don't wear shorts.

Amazing Baby play Market Hotel this Friday and, according to the flyer, it's free Colt 45 all night which could be awesome or horrible depending how the night goes. They're also opening for Does it Offend You Yeah? at Bowery Ballroom next Saturday (though it's not on their MySpace…hmm) and play with A Place to Bury Strangers at Music Hall of Williamsburg on September 15.

The Blacks, meanwhile, play with A Place to Bury Strangers on September 29 at Bottom of the Hill in SF.

Suckers, double meanwhile, play Le Poisson Rouge on September 12 with Dragons of Zynth.

I shot some video of Amazing Baby. Here's "Head Dress":

And here's "The Narwhal":

Thar They Blow: Noah and the Whale Hit America Next Month

Warning: they really do dress like that all the time.
After canceling their Stateside visit that was planned around Lollapalooza, UK blue-loving neo-folkies Noah and the Whale have finally figured out their first U.S. tour with ten dates in the usual places, including three NYC dates. One of those is at, believe it or not, the Sidewalk Cafe — birthplace of the '90s antifolk scene that gave us Jeffrey Lewis, Cindy Lee Berryhill and Beck. It's a tiny venue for a band with a current UK Top Ten Hit, the lovely "5 Years Time" which is actually playing in a Saturn car commercial as I type this. (True!) They are admitted Jeffrey Lewis fans so I wonder if they didn't ask to play there specifically the way some singers used to want to play The Bitter End or the Bottom Line because Dylan did.

The band's very good debut album, Peaceful the World Lays Me Down, was supposed to come out over here at the end of last month but is now scheduled for September 16, the day before their first U.S. show at Union Pool which will be a lovely place to see them. Hopefully they will sell advance tickets to that one.

MP3: Noah and the Whale – Shape Of My Heart

Those tour dates:
9/17 Union Pool, Brooklyn
9/18 Sidewalk Cafe, NYC
9/19 Mercury Lounge, NYC
9/20 TOAD, Boston MA
9/26 Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL
9/29 The Sunset, Seattle, WA
9/30 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
10/02 Pop Scene, San Francisco, CA
10/04 Detour Festival, Los Angeles
10/06 Spaceland, Los Angeles

The Muslims | Union Pool | 6.20.2008

Muslims_up

Attitude. San Diego's The Muslims have it in spades. Real, f-you mom/dad/boss/ex-girlfriend/whaddyagot? attitude. Capping off a week of NYC shows (including that Vice party at Santos), that attitude came through loud and clear even while wearing ball caps and polo shirts. Clearly, they see no reason to conform to what anyone deems is cool. The music — garage bashers a la The Modern Lovers or The Velvet Underground — does all the talking.

MP3: The Muslims – On My Time

MP3: The Muslims – Call It A Day

Buy the Muslims debut album, with it's infamous bullet-ridden cover, from Insound.

NYC Popfest: The Hermit Crabs + Cats on Fire + More | Union Pool | 6.15.2008

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"So we played Mondo Party on Friday," said Cats on Fire's Mattias Björkas after their first song at Union Pool on Sunday. "And there's already a review on the internet. It was mostly positive."

Oh boy. I was pretty sure he was talking about this site.

Then, I was sure. He continued: "The person wrote…'The Finnish don't quite have the command of the English language their
Swedish neighbors do, and Björkas stage banter came off
stilted and a
cold." The audience erupted in laughter. Me, I felt flushed. I yelled out "It's much warmer today!" but I don't think he put it together that I was the guy who wrote that. Probably just as well. That was a first, getting quoted. If there's a next time, I hope it's about something positive.

And Björkas' stage banter was warmer on Sunday. The band was more relaxed — probably less jet-lagged from the long trip from Finland — it was a better show than at Don Hills on Friday night. The crowd ate it up like sugary cereal.

Popfest_unionpool_sched
The final event at NYC Popfest 2008 was a lot of fun, very chill, and way off schedule. Bands were supposed to start at 2PM but then the kickoff got pushed to 3PM. But they didn't actually start till maybe 3:30 and there eight acts on the bill.

It was all right though, despite it being monstrously hot and humid. Union Pool is a nice place to hang out, with a big outdoor area with a fair amount of shade. A barbecue was set up with The Besties manning the grill. And the performance room — which is really cute and actually perfect for Popfest — stayed nice and air conditioned.

The day's biggest discovery was Boston's One Happy Island, who had some really winning songs with lots of interesting instrumentation, including kazoo, glockenspiel and ukulele, which at one point was played a distortion pedal. (That was a first.) Three of the four members sang, though they'd do well to feature the lovely voice of drummer drummer Rebecca Mitchell.

MP3: One Happy Island – Temporary Tattoo

Other bands on the bill included the ukulele stylings of Dent May (who I'm guessing probably listens to Jens Lekman); twangy Boston indie rockers Hands and Knees; and the slightly fratty (but master of self-depricating stage banter) Steve Goldberg and the Arch Enemies.

The band I was actually looking forward to were Glasgow's The Hermit Crabs who are purveyors of the loveliest folk-pop in Scottland this side of Camera Obscura. Comparisons to that band abound, but The Hermit Crabs are a little more country, and a little more subdued. Maybe a bit too subdued after a long day in the hot sun drinking beer, which is totally not their fault. Singer Melanie Whittle seemed like the nicest person on the planet and performed with her shoes off. I'd love to see them again under cooler circumstances.

I shot video of The Hermit Crabs doing "Friends Folk Festival"…



MP3
: The Hermit Crabs – Friends Folk Festival

So ended my Popfest 2008. A few more pictures from Sunday after the jump…

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Violens + Savoir Adore + Amazing Baby | Union Pool | 5.10.2008

Violens1It pleases me greatly to go into a show mostly blind and come out a fan of every band on the bill. That never happens anymore. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong shows.

I was there primarily to see Violens, the new band from some of the Lansing-Dreiden folks, though I’m not sure exactly which ones. Definitely singer/guitarist Jorge Elbrecht, and probably keyboardist Iddo Arad. Maybe more, but hard to say. L-D were an enigmatic bunch who didn’t believe in album credits or band photos… or even playing in the live incarnation of their band.

Violens are more forthcoming about the who’s and whats. It’s also a more cohesive sound. Lansing-Dreiden incompassed everything from synthpop to metal, but Violens seem more influenced by ’80s UK pop, both of the jazzy variety favored by Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout, and those that prefered delay pedals like A Bell is a Cup-era Wire and The Sound. (In that respect, they also reminded me of ’90s Swedish band Eggstone.) And like L-D, they still love the reverb. They also like volume. Why didn’t I bring earplugs? The ringing in my ears seems especially prominent today. The best moments of the show combined the jazzy and the delay-ridden rocking out. And my favorites of the night are not to be found on their MySpace, so I think there’s a lot to look forward to with these guys.

You can get Violens’ song "Violent Sensation Descends" from RCRDLBL. They’ve also got an EP, which wasn’t for sale last night, but you can get it at Insound.

Violens next show is June 5 at the Mercury Lounge where they’re playing with Chairlift and Mixel Pixel. Tickets ($10) are on sale.

Amazingbaby
But as I said, the whole bill at Union Pool last night was very good. All three bands are signed to Cantora Records that is probably best-known at this point for being the label who released MGMT’s first EP. Tonight proves they’ve really got a good ear. The weather was horrible yesterday and I figured between the torrential rain and showing up at 9pm there would be nobody there. But the place was already pretty packed when I got there, and I think as many people were there for opening band Amazing Baby as their were for Violens.

It was Amazing Babys first-ever show, though you’d never know it. They came prepared and kind of knocked everyone’s socks off. Though I’m probably wrong, I’m going to go out on a limb and say
Amazing Baby don’t sound like any other band in NYC. To draw
comparisons… maybe a heavier, more-psychedelic Roxy Music? That sounds about right. Who are they? The band seems to be primarily an offshoot of rawkers Stylofone, but the live permutation, last night at least, also featured ex-Diamond Nights guitarist Rob Laakso and Jane "Spider" Herships on bass. There were also two female backup singers and a keyboardist. (Maybe that’s where the Roxy comparisons come from for me.) They’re the kind of group you could imagine going the denim-leather/lightshow route but just let the music do the talking. And that came through loud and clear. I’m pretty sure they’re my new favorite NYC band and seem ready for domination.

MP3: Amazing Baby – Head Dress

MP3: Amazing Baby – Supreme Being

Amazing Baby’s MySpace has these plus three more and you can download all of them.

If you’re intrigued, Amazing Baby are playing tomorrow (5/11) at The Annex. Go ahead, bring Mom, it’s an early show — supposedly they’re on at 9pm. They’re on around 11pm I’ve just been informed. And if you can’t make that, they’re playing Glasslands on Thursday (5/15).

SavoiradoreIn between Amazing Baby and Violens were Savoir Adore who are also making a kind of music that seems scarce these days — pure pop. This is the sort of stuff that seemed so prevalent in ’80s indie music, be it Let’s Active or The Go-Betweens or The Reivers. Not that they sound dated in any way — I don’t think this kind of pop ever really goes out of style. (Even though it kind of currently is.) Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer compliment each other so well, both vocally but also the way their guitars intertwine. Keyboards seemed superfluous at times, except when they were set to Melotron, which they usually were.  Apparently most (all?) of Savoir Adore’s songs are for a concept album yet-to-be explained involving characters named Mr. P, Dr. Rousseau and a wooded forrest, but you needn’t know any of this to dig what they’re doing:

MP3: Savoir Adore – We Talk Like Machines

MP3: Savoir Adore – Mr P. Professor of Thought.mp3

Both these songs, plus two more, are available on their Cantora Records page. Savoir Adore are opening for Los Campesinos! this Thursday (5/15) at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and then play Lit on May 23.

So to recap last night’s show. Three bands, all different, all great. My friend Don was armed with his nice digital SLR and took some photos which you can find here.