Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Retribution Gospel Choir, Earlimart at Amoeba, Fleet Foxes first video

aThe Retribution Gospel Choir played the Troubadour Monday night (July 7) and I didn't even know until late in the day that I would attend. I am so glad I did. Since I've been a big Low fan for a while now, it would seem natural to go to this show as Alan Sparhawk is allowed to cut loose and really rock with his wonderful band in this side project. He's joined by Steve Garrington on bass and the very talented drummer, Eric Pollard, who also sings beautiful harmonies. Apparently, they're not too well known yet, as there was only a small crowd on hand. Sometimes this can make a concert seem sad, but this time it was perfect, giving the set a lovely, intimate feeling. So comfortable, in fact, it felt like we were in Alan's living room listening to a rehearsal.

They play a collection of original songs interspersed with some reworked Low numbers. Alan's singing is strong and beautiful...sometimes he reminds me of Gruff Rhys' smooth vocal work in Super Furry Animals and the harmonies provided by Mr. Pollard knock me out. How does one sing so finely while drumming away, which I see a lot lately! Especially gorgeous was "They Knew You Well" with it's stunning descending vocals. Steve Garrington provided the steady bass work, anchoring each song. Interesting to see how the more extreme the songs, the more diffused the atmosphere, Alan's playing only becomes more careful and delicate, making the most bombastic sounds lighter than air. Pick up their self-titled CD if you can. It's great!

Adding to the evening for me was the chance to catch up with Mike Griffin of Tandemore, who I haven't seen in ages, since he was one of the first musicians to befriend me when I began this musical odyssey, almost three years ago. He said there's new Tandemoro music ready for release. Yea!

Tuesday (July 8) was Earlimart's in-store at Amoeba celebrating the release of "Hymn and Her", and it was well attended. Hard to believe this Los Angeles institution hasn't done Amoeba before but they made up for with it with a sparkling set by Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray and a drummer. What a wise move to open and close with less familiar songs from the pre-"Treble and Tremble" era which eased you in and then back out of some wonderful numbers from "Hymn and Her" including "Face Down in the Right Town", "Song For", "Before It Gets Better" and "Cigarettes and Kerosene". "Happy Alone" represented CD "Mentor Tormentor" and typical Earlimart between-song-atmosphere was provided by crickets and Chopin.

I had out-of-town relatives with me to whom I was anxious to show what's going on in this town musically (independent-wise) and Earlimart provided the better than perfect example. The great audience provided another...musicians, fans, bloggers, friends all demonstrating the great support and sense of community that is thriving here right now.

So sorry to have missed the first "My Little Underground" event hosted by Web In Front and Classical Geek Theatre at Bordello later that night. I hear it was an amazing show and I wanted to support these guys. I won't miss the next one!

On a side note, Fleet Foxes introduced their first music video, available for viewing on their myspace page or at Web in Front . It's for the song "White Winter Hymnal" and is directed by Robin Pecknold's brother, Sean Pecknold. It's a beautiful piece of stop-motion animation, also designed by Sean, which has stunning images of seasonal changes as witnessed by a bunch of long-haired, bearded men of indeterminate age, ruefully witnessing the passage of time. I found it very moving and thought the character expressions perticularly remarkable and meaningful, subtly rendered. Special mention to the little clothes the characters wear, the dark and mysterious lighting design, and those dancing mushrooms. Oh, and by the way, the song is brilliant, too.


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