Friday, December 23, 2005

Smothered in Hugs + Lenore + Officer Girl

This won't be any kind of full-fledged review because I've written about all these bands before, but I would like to mention that each of the three acts last night put on the best show I'd ever see them do.

This was the show that almost didn't happen. It was the last in a series of CD release parties for the Well Oiled compilation. I missed the first one becaue I'm lame, and the second one was cancelled because of weather, so I was definitely going to make it to the final show, which was supposed to be at Myron's. However some drama or other occurred with the Myron's management deciding they needed to bump the release party down to earlier in the night and putting a band at the top of the bill that isn't even on the CD. They were probably playing it safe and wanting to have a more general crowd-friendly band playing at the end when the random people off the street were more likely to be there (indie rock scares away cougars faster than tiger urine, it'sa scientific fact), but the way they went about changing the bill rubbed enough people the wrong way that for a while it looked like there wasn't going to be a show. But then some brilliant soul arranged for it to be at the Arts Guild and all was right with the world, since being at Myron's, even to see a good show, still makes me want to hang myself by my old and fraying shoelaces.

Smothered in Hats were up first, it was generous of them to go up first considering Lenore were only playing their second show, but Lenore's short set is a good 'in between' fit, so it worked out well. The only other times I've seen these guys were at Brennan's, which has pretty sub-par sound and terrible accoustics, which probably unfairly prejudiced my opinionof them. The Guild's sound set up definitely brought out the clarity of their playing a lot better. Hugs have a very Interpol-type sound to them, with a good smattering of new wave thrown in. The keyboard player provides a lot of the backbone to their melody, and isn't just there to fill out the sound, which is a welcome departure from most keyboard players aroound these parts, though there's one point in a song where the keyboard player drags accross all the keys that is a little too much, replacing that with a little alternating-note descending bridge would reduce the sore thumb factor.

The drumming had a bit of a Cure sound, off in another room but still playing along to the band, with a very clattering quality to it. They must go through at least 3 or 4 highhats a year.

They seem to have a good little fan base growing for them as well, with people cheering for specific songs and knowing which ones were coming up. The last couple of songs they played were definitely the crowd pleasers, with the tightest playing and the catchiest hooks.

Joel Court and the Flushes were up next, with their fairly short new set. They've apparently been playing together for the better part of a year before ever doing a show. Most of the members are older and have pretty high standards for themselves which would explain the long wait and the few songs to start with. That's supergroups for you, I suppose.

Lenore have a very full sound, both guitars have distinct tone and don't step on each other at all. The rhythem section are quick and tight and straightforward, with that 'we've been playing together so long we sound like one instrument' kind of rapport.

I could spend the rest of this review talking about Joel's sweet guitar tone, it stands out and really shapes Lenore's sound. A few weeks ago I saw him play by himself at an all ages show at the Basilica Rec Centre and he was in a class by himself compared with the other acts (who weren't bad at all, but didn't stick out in my memory nearly as much.)

The singing both times I've seen Lenore has been a bit subdued, but I think that's more a product of the sound systems they've had to deal with. The two vocalists thing is a new one, and I haven't heard how it works on the song they've got on well-oiled. Sometimes during the show it felt like they weren't sure how to sing together without bumping into each other. That should come with playing on stage more, as they stretch themselves out and work the kinks from their live show. I don't have a sweet clue in the world what they might be saying or what the songs are about. Not important for me, since I usually don't pay attention to lyrics, but it was frustrating for some others. They're getting pretty monstrous buzz around town, though, and hopefully they'll start playing a lot more shows.

This was Officer dot Girl's last show in Charlottetown before the band picks up and moves to Montreal. I've not seen them do a bad show, and thanks to the sound setup last night and the positive vibe from the crowd I'll remember this last show as their best one. I've already written about them here, so go read that and I won't have to repeat myself talking about their musical style.

The sound setup they had last night let you hear each instrument clearly and from a slightly different place, so you had the ability to concentrate on any one of the players. Definitely beats all other venues except Myron's, but they actually pay attention to the quality of sound instead of just throwing their expensive system on 'loud' and letting it take care of itself like Myron's seems to. It was also an island of sensible crowds in the middle of the drunken holiday idiocy flooding the bars around town, so in a way having the show move was the best thing that could have happened.

Officer Girl will definitely be missed, I didn't hear them make a point of saying they'd be back, but hopefully it was implied. Dave Christian / Shoreline, I'm looking at you to do some arm-twisting if need be.

Next step is to get my copy of Well Oiled back from Taylor so I can actually hear the thing.

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By al - 9:49 a.m. |

Nice site you've got here.

It's pretty silly of bands to have no web presence this day and age. But you're the first hit on google for officer girl. :)
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