Monday, February 05, 2007
How good is pop in this city, hey? HOW GOOD (shakes reader)?! Tonight is another revelation in that department from the glorious lack of pretentiousness and clumsy fumbling of The Whales, to the hilarious closing stains of Muscles We Love You.
In front of a projected episode of The Baby-Sitters Club, comes the shambolic thrill of local four-piece The Whales. A cover of Phantom Planet's Orange County in which four seasons of The O.C. are related in under three minutes, a slightly disturbingly enacted version of Sufjan Steven's John Wayne Gacy and originals like Truth Be Told highlight what a quality songwriter Joss Whales is. Personalities shine through in this band and between song narration from Kate Whales give gig a school production vibe that works wonderfully.
From The Baby-Sitters Club to Daria, and for their swansong The Motifs play a fittingly short and sweet set. The sound is sensitively handled and songs come a bit more alive though there is an air of finality about some which lend a poignancy perfectly served by Alexis' dulcet whisper. Every Way, Diagonals and Secret Address are gorgeous creations and shine tonight.
From Daria to Free Willy, the projector is spot on, though no one touches accuracy or overall brilliance tonight like Julian Nation. Despite frequently insensitive drumming and an odd lapse into mumbling, Julian Nation is without a doubt a name to buy shares in now because his lyrics, his look and his total naturalness are a unique and precious find, and nothing compared to his songs. Paper Mache, Appetite for Destruction, 1992, and Press Gang Kids all thrill with a delight that rarely comes from finding someone so good so early on. Watching his fingers still find the chords while hearing lyrics like: "I always meant to give you the best of me, not a greatest hits CD" and seeing the audience sit like meercats, not wanting to miss a word adds up to a magic night. The icing of which was the reluctant dragging back out of the audience to perform an ukulele-sporting encore (featuring Jamie of The Raylenes on percussion) of a song Meaningless which was breathtaking in it's concise selfless humour and poignancy, unlike anything I've seen before, and a different league to The Lucksmiths with whom he's been compared.
Back To The Baby-Sitters Club again for Muscles, who plays with twice the confidence to half the audience and an ace DIY light show. His voice sounds strained (though this could be a vocoder) but the overall sound is great ."I don't need a lover, I just want to dance with my shirt off. I don't need another, I just want to dance". You could take his songs and get all Postal Service on them, but Muscles is about beats, and lots of them. Perhaps he should have been at The Espy performing with Midnight Juggernauts, sooner or later he'll take off and we'll all be singing "Hey Muscles, I love you, I want to have your babies,". One Poptastic Night.