Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Marvelous Toy, Seasons and Robert Francis

The first Monday of the new year, Jan. 5, 2009, afforded a nice choice of shows with the Olin and The Moon residency at the Silverlake Lounge, whose opening acts included Marvelous Toy, and Robert Francis' residency at The Echo sporting sets by Andrew Spitzer of Radars To the Sky and Seasons.

Hoping to, somehow, take in Marvelous Toy at 9:30 and then hop a bus a few blocks to The Echo in time to catch some of Seasons 10 o'clock set, I lucked out on both counts. Walking into the Silverlake Lounge just past 9:30, Marvelous Toy were playing their first song.

I'd been anxious to see Jordan Huddock's band a second time, as the first time I saw them, in November, was a knock out. Again, I was impressed with the fresh sound and strong musical skills of this band. Jordan's songs are written in such a time honored American songwriter tradition that they remind me of some Tin Pan Alley music of the past century crossed with a touch of Kurt Weill. They played a couple of new songs which, to my ears, sounded like two of their strongest songs and the terrific "Waiting For the Fire" from their EP, All is Quiet, and a cover, which frankly, wasn't nearly as good a song as their own compositions.

I love the way their music bounces along, punctuated by Huddock' wry lyrics and phenomenal piano playing. I won't be surprised to see Marvelous Toy with a larger following in very short order. As soon as they finished I said a hasty goodbye and jumped a bus heading up the street.

I walked into The Echo as Seasons were into their first or second song, "Song That You Know" and could see the crowd was already into it. A great round up of regulars was present; bands, friends, photographers and bloggers, as there is already a definite buzz surrounding Robert Francis.

Seasons performed their usual high-spirited celebratory rock and blues mix, highlighted by Nic's impassioned vocals and John's supersonic accompaniment, when he isn't jumping off stage for some tribal tambourine slamming. The rest of the band aided by Matthew Teardrop of Manhattan Murder Mystery performed valiantly.

I saw Robert Francis when he opened for Death To Anders during their Echo residency last September and had forgotten I'd written a very favorable review of his band's set then. His sister performed and sang with Robert that night and I now recall their beautiful harmonies. But now he sings alone or with several band mates and his voice came across as a much more powerful yet subtle instrument than I'd heard before.

His youth belies the maturity and assurance of his vocal skills and the songs themselves reminded me of the heyday of the folk/alt-country rock music of the early '70's by the likes of J. D. Souther, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Andrew Gold and a host of others. Until The Eagles brought mediocrity and boredom to the mix and killed the genre for a generation, at least.

It's nice top hear it invigorated by Robert Francis with a new passion and talent. This will be a very successful residency, I feel, and could provide the launching pad for quite a prodigious career. I would suggest trying to catch a least one of these Monday nights because he'll be off and running after this.

Terrific start to a new year of shows and this one bodes well for the future.


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