(I am going to attempt to refrain from using the term “World Music” in this mini-review/recap).
The Falstaff’s building on the Skidmore College campus has played host to countless bands, concerts and events over the years. Located on the outer ring that circles the campus, this haven built of stone crag and soft wood has many reflective surfaces that make for an extremely hit-or-miss sound situation. Calvin Johnson said it best a few years back when he wondered how he ended up booked at a ski lodge.
Charlie Everywhere’s set kicked off as it has as of late (I’ve seen them three or four times in the past two months) with “As Far As I Can See” – an excellent way to start an evening of music. Their portion of the night ran through familiar songs featured on their MySpace page in recent months (“When I’m Small”, “Mouthfull of Diamonds”), but veered into darker, moodier territory with a few new songs and an obscure Pink Floyd cover. Highlights included the aforementioned “When I’m Small” which is built on a nasty, nasty drum loop and some flip-flop angel/demon vocals from Sarah Barthel. Her partner in crime, Josh Carter delivered my other favorite moment from the set with “You Are the Ocean (and I’m Good at Drowning)” which must be the best song in their clutch of street-beat influenced psych-pop. (Note: “You Are the Ocean” recently became available in the band’s SNOCAP store on their MySpace page. Highly Recommended purchase!!)
A few months ago, my lovely friend Jess from Terrorbird recommended Yeasayer as being amazing both live and on record. Without any research (I trust Jess that much!), I picked up “All Hour Cymbals” from eMusic. However, I must have listened to it at the wrong time, because at first listen it didn’t grab me and I have yet to re-visit. I knew that attending a live show would swing me either way.
There is such a deep resonance in what Yeasayer conjures as a band and as a sound. While most “bands” are slapped together with each member’s disparate parts, these four gents appear to be of one giant elaborate mind – generating a constant, concise, clear wave of vision that is somehow translated into music. Despite having a unique and intricate rhythmic underpinning, there is nothing inherently showy or outwardly flashy about their music – no extended solos or crowd-doting mind tricks. Yet there is this sense of mystery and profoundness that just oozes from their presence – a cosmic watermark on every affected vocal, keyboard swipe, bass guitar slide, and percussion diddle.
Since “All Hour Cymbals” has barely received one listen-through in my house, my only real familiarity was with 2080 due to some rotational spins on WEXT. As my only point of reference, I was concerned that the band wouldn’t be able to capture the certain something that was magic about the recorded version. Perhaps it was the immediate recognition by the packed room of Skidmore students, but that single song hit much, much harder than expected. Mid-set, it brought the whole ski lodge together into a pulsing, undulating pogo-wave.
Maybe that is the appeal of Yeasayer – that their music is so completely together with itself that it elicits that feeling within listeners. I’m sold. When can I see them again?
( Check out this excellent interview with Anand from Yeasayer here. He talks about everything from touring to debunking their “SXSW success story”. )