Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roman Photos, Memoryhouse, Twin Sister At The Earl, Atlanta

Back on March 5, I posted some vids as part of my Friday Night Videos series by a few of my favorite bands of that moment: Twin Sister, Broken Bells, Josh Rouse, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Since the time of that post, I've seen Josh Rouse (May 22), Broken Bells (June 10), and Edward Sharpe (July 11), and last night I saw Twin Sister.

I normally don't like to go out and see bands on a Tuesday night. I'm an old man, and frankly, they just play too late for me to get up refreshed for work the next day. And on top of that, I had to not only attend, but chair, the meeting of the alliance of neighborhood associations between the time I get off work and the time the concert was scheduled to start. But when I saw Twin Sister was playing with Memoryhouse, another band that I like, I figured that I had to go.

(Alternately, here's a more disturbing reason that I went: having already blogged about seeing the other three bands from the March 5 post, did I go just for the blogging rights to say that I was there?)

Whatever. After work, I stopped home to change and feed the cats and then rushed off to the alliance meeting. After the meeting, I hopped back in the car and drove over to The Earl in East Atlanta Village and got there in enough time to eat a chesseburger at the bar before the show started. By 8:45, I was in the club (actually, just the back room of The Earl) and the first band hadn't even started yet.

The first band was a local act, Roman Photos, who seem to be still looking for their sound, but nonetheless occasionally stumbled into some interesting riffs. In the indie rock aesthetic, it doesn't matter it you play well or not, as long as you're at least interesting.

Toronto's Memoryhouse, the next band on the bill, was most certainly interesting and consistently so, and they were good musicians to boot. Memoryhouse are Evan Abeele, a student of classical music, and singer Denise Nouvion. On tour, Adrian Vieni rounds out their sound with extra guitar and bass. Together, they produce shimmery, echo-laden dreampop beneath Denise's crooning vocals. What sets them apart from the boatload of other dreampop bands is they incorporate video into their live performance, playing in front of a screen showing in-and-out-of-focus clips of beaches, evocative smiling faces, and a girl's hair catching the sunlight. The videos are a lot like that in the Twin Sister promo above - in fact, I strongly suspect that the same photographer is responsible for both.

You can download a great mixtape set by Memoryhouse here. The mix includes Brian Eno's Through Hollow Lands, and the spirit of Eno is ever present just beneath the surface of their art. Here's my obligatory treated photograph of them playing at The Earl, Denise lost in reverie before the silver screen:

Long Island's Twin Sister didn't take the stage until after 11:30, but they were worth the wait. Their music's been described as '80s delay-pedal shimmery-ness with nods to '70s muted-fretboard soft rock soul, as well as a pastoral folk thing going on. Basically, dreamy and beautiful stuff. Lead singer Andrea Estella sings in a whispery ruffle of a voice that enchants you the moment you hear it - it's so quiet and yet so confident that you find it hard to believe she can sustain the spell for a whole set (she can and does). The band plays well behind her, blending genres from art-rock to shoegaze to new wave.

Twin Sister necessarily plays quietly for a rock band so that Andrea's vocals aren't lost in the mix, and the sound man at The Earl did a good job with their mix last night. The band waited until the middle of their set to play "All Around And Away We Go," one of my favorite songs of theirs that sounds like something Blondie might have recorded back in her day and a cut that's generating a lot of internet enthusiasm.

Speaking of enthusiasm, the audience really got into the set, surprising the band by clapping along during some of the more ambient moments, and engaging in a lot of playful, adoring two-way stage banter ("No, you're awesome").

But despite the enthusiasm, the audience didn't call them back for an encore, the second time in a row I've seen an Earl audience fail to do so (last time was at Here We Go Magic). Still, Andrea hung around on stage and talked with the audience, and even showed us some of her tattoos (a Winnie The Pooh tableau across her shoulder blades).

Both Memoryhouse and Twin Sister met or exceeded my expectations, and I still love the fact that I can go on a weeknight and see some earnest bands play near-ambient pop in the back room of a neighborhood bar. How cool is that?

For the record and those of you keeping score at home, I got home a little after 12:30 and went straight to bed. I felt fine the next morning (if not a little elated).

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