Monday, October 1, 2012

The Album Leaf at The Satellite - September 29, 2012

On Saturday, September 29, I went to see The Album Leaf at The Satellite. This band has such an interesing history, beginning as a solo side project of musician Jimmy LaValle that has evolved into a highly respected musical project with fantastic fans that even get Album Leaf tattoos to show their devotion. Sometimes they play as a band in venues like El Rey, or in a nearly solo configuration like I saw at The Echo in 2008. Well this was a really special show that was being filmed for an online TV show called Audio-Files that has shows of bands like Ramona Falls, Damien Jurado and Low.

My history with The Album Leaf goes back to The Black Heart Procession by way of Calexico, actually by way of a poster for a concert by Calexico. Let me 2006 I was looking through the LA Weekly for upcoming concerts and saw a poster for a show by Calexico that looked so appealing I knew I would like this band. I listened to music samples on their Myspace page (yes, back then) and fell in love with the band on the spot, bought Garden Ruin (loved it), and got a ticket for this concert on June 13, 2006 at The Fonda.

But as I walked into The Fonda that night, The Black Heart Procession were performing "Guess I'll Forget You" in an auditorium swimming in fog and blue and purple day-glo light. I think I was hypnotized within 15 seconds. Jimmy LaVale was a member of the band that night and in a couple of subsequent shows I attended, but then he was gone. Off to devote all his energy to something called The Album Leaf.

I only had to hear one song by this band to become completely enamored of this music. It was a blending of some of the things I like best...instrumental music, piano, softly understated vocals, intelligent orchestrations and haunting melodies. I think I was a fan for a long time before I finally got to see then live. There's no stage craft at all, just musicians sitting on a stage and playing serious music. I found it completely unpretentious and hypnotically moving.

I think Saturday's show was the best I've seen. Four musicians make up The Album Leaf right now and some play a variety of instruments. But from where I was standing Jimmy LaValle was not four feet in front of me playing his keyboard. I got to see right up close the remarkably fluid way his hands fly across the keys. What a privilege to witness that.

I only recognized a couple of songs as they focused on most of the new songs from their great new EP Forward/Return, which they were selling that night. It's a mostly instrumental recording that plays much like a beautiful film score for a movie yet to be made. The incredibly committed playing by all members of the band made it seem like they all reallly believe in this record.

After five incredible concerts in one week, I expected at least one of the shows to fall short. It didn't happen.

photos by Brad Roberts

No comments: