Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thailand CD Release Party

Some nights at a show are far more like a party with friends these days. What a great collection of local musicians, writers, visual artists and photographers is out there and often these talents are combined in single individuals. Last night (June 25), the CD release show for Thailand at the Silverlake Lounge was one of those nights. I step down off the bus right at the front door to see Rob Danson of Death To Anders having a chat with Joe Fielder, whose Radio Free Silver Lake co-sponsored the event with the Fold. After talking outside for a while we moved inside where I met up with fellow bloggers, Mouse of Classical Geek Theatre and then Kevin Bronson of the L.A. Times, all to see Thailand.

The Soft Hands were amazing because last month at the "Let's Independent" show I'd been satisfied but not drawn into the music the way I was last night. Their quirky kind of Oingo Boingo-esque rollicking rock really sounded intriguing. A kind of constant confounding of expectations takes place as they set you up in some melody then fly apart into a sort of atmospheric reverie, only to have the melody reassert inself, stronger than before. If it's a formula, it works, because they do it in each song. Nice, strong male/female vocals and terrific playing make this a band I'll continue to follow. I got their EP last month, but it only hints at their work live. See them if you can.
Now here's where I humiliate myself. When I came into the club earlier I'd asked someone who that band was and they thought I'd asked "Who's next?" and said, "The Soft Hands". So for their entire set I thought I was watching Thailand. When they were done I said my goodnights to quizical looking friends and was almost out the door when Hunter Costeau walks in and says, "Where are you going?" and I said, "Thailand was terrific" and he said, "I missed them?'" and someone kindly informed me how far my head was up my ass by simply stating, "That was The Soft Hands, Thailand's up next". Hence the previous paragraph. When I realized they weren't a different band but the same one I'd seen last month, I had to acknowledge how much better they sounded. Anyway, I felt like a jerk and the next time I'll know who they are. Hey, if that only happens once out of 250 concerts, I'm not going to feel too bad. Great to chat it up with Hunter and Ethan about The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra's new CD, the artwork and the release party July 3rd at the Echo.

Thailand is a band I've been meaning to see for a long time, so I was glad they lived up to the hype. Their catchy, clean, post-punk indie-rock sound is contrasted with some really thoughtful lyric writing. Picking up their newly released EP last night, I've really noticed the writing, not to mention the beautifully designed package. But their live performance was very fine, with maybe the best and most natural sounding use of a drum machine I've yet seen. I ws especially impressed with the song "Heartland Failure" (gotta love the title) which isn't so much a protest song (is that a dirty word...tooooo sixties?) as a current events song, where the anger is replaced by a certain objectivity. The powerful line "One more year hating your country. One more year tearing your heart in two (Our hearts stopped beating)". It illustrates so well how painful it is to be angry at your country. People on the right love to believe that left-wingers live to hate America, but that is such a lie. The song states it better than I can. Have to admit, I can be partial to a band that bandies in politics... after all, it is our civic duty. I enjoyed all their songs, especially "Control, Control" and the older songs, too.

I even stayed for the paired down One Trick Pony. Minus their drummer, Randolph Williams sang a lovely set of narrative folk-like songs accompanying himself on the guitar and aided by the beautiful violin work and occasional vocal of Charlene Huang. He has a wonderful evocative voice and I look forward to seeing more of them.

Finally, I went home.

Friday is Fol Chen and Health Club at Pehrspace. And Saturday and Sunday are Fleet Foxes, now augmented by Evan Way of The Parson Red Heads going solo as an opener on Sunday. Can't wait! Then Monday is The Happy Hollows ans Afternoons at Spaceland...Tuesday: The Mai Shi and Death To Anders at Spaceland, again...and on...and on.


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