Australian band Sherlock's Daughter opened their first American tour last night with a performance at The Loft in Atlanta. A friend called me late in the day and said he had an extra ticket for me if I wanted to go. I went.
Their set was revelatory. I had never heard them before, or heard of them, but they performed a number of interesting, well-written and well-crafted songs, have an appealing dance-pop sound, and good stage presence. Singer Tonya Horo also plays guitar, but sometimes just sings, or occasionally plays a glockenspiel or that yellow tom-tom in the picture above. Keeps things interesting. She sings in a sultry, breathy voice that makes me want to hear her duet with Twin Sister's Andrea Estella. At times, the band sounds a little like Twin Sister or a little like StereoLab or even the Sundays, but are not at all derivative of either.
I also like the fact that they are brave enough to not do anything at all in their official video for the song Reprise. The Talking Heads once sang that heaven is a place where nothing ever happens, and literally nothing happens in their video - they actually let you just listen to the music. "Don't just do something, sit there."
The story so far behind the band is that they apparenly left their native Australia just for the off chance of being selected to play at the CMJ festival a couple years ago. They were selected and they stayed and hung around New York City and recorded an album to be released soon. They've opened for the Freelance Whales at a sold-out show at the Bowery Ballroom, and recently played South By Southwest. They are now on their first tour. "We just drove 15 hours to play for you tonight," Horo said at the beginning of their set. "We hope you like it." Their tour takes them back to the Bowery Ballroom on September 13 and the Music Hall of Williamsburg on the 14th.
Bass player Liam Flanagan asked the audience where the band should go after the set, and the crowd pretty much concurred with a suggestion that they go to Atlanta's infamous Clermont Lounge. Later, guitarist Tim Maybury asked a girl in the audience who was singing along to each song how in the world she already knew all their lyrics, when their album hadn't even been released yet. "YouTube," she replied.
As is the norm, the band sold some CDs after the show, but each one was packaged in an individually designed paper envelope. Each CD either had a little hand-drawn illustration or a simple little collage with the tape and glue still showing. Each was totally unique and you can tell that the band spent some time creating these little covers. I can easily imagine them competing to make each one as different from the others as they possibly could. I bought one, a five-song EP with the titles written by hand on the disk in magic marker. The envelope has a handmade mountain-and-sunglasses collage on the cover. At $5, it's hard to get something more personal from a band, and the music sounded great the next morning.
After their set was over, a band called the Charlatans UK played for a while. You may have heard of them.