Monday, September 22, 2008
Ford and Fitzroy at the Cakeshop 9-6-08
The Cakeshop is the best venue, I can't believe it even exists in the heart of the lower east side. It's monumental, it's a historic place at this point and will be missed like CBGB's. Why am I composing it's epitaph already? It's that unbelievable it exists especially today with every space relocating to hopefully cheaper Williamsburg...why don't any of these places actually save any money to go out and buy a space?
I was describing the band to my friend Matt on the way there, saying the vocals are really specific, the only comparison that came to mind was Issac Brock or Conner Oberst (not that in either of these references he's attempting any kind of impression, it's completely his own style, but it's as unmistakable.) This combined with a solid soaring guitar section, that Explosions in the sky quiet chorus-y echo makes this a perfect combination of stripped away emotion through a near math, intricate song structure filter. It's as catchy and interesting as anything on This is a long drive...' As unobvious, uniquely interesting combination using the familiar rock elements in surprising ways.
Jay Schneider has this great ability to walk that line of abstract vocals that are at the same time so specific to some mysterious universality. You could easily read anything into them, but it doesn't feel intentional, it's a smart prose set to an ever changing rhythmic structure. Musically It's working because it's deceptively simple, the intricate parts are all adding up somehow effortlessly. Like in Las Vegas Blush, (video courtesy M. Nash) there's no way to predict where this intensity is going to end up, when it finally blows, it's epic and you can't wait to hear it again. But of course they know how to use this ferocity and balance it between the quiet breakdowns that doesn't sound conventional.
Capillaries fill like neon lights / rushing red / like murder in the snow
when you fly in your jet plane late at night / can you see / las vagas blush below
This energy continues on Ford and Fitzroy's full length Canyons. There's no predictability in the flow, every song is full of this disparate emotion. Is this overflowing optimism or the last gasp of a terrible tragedy? They can go from that near chaos wall of sound to foot tapping bass driven grove, changing all these great pieces... somehow fitting together... maddenly complex, even when consciously breaking them apart.
The differences live between the studio album are slight....the background vocal additions aren't essential, the at times atmospheric synth isn't missed..if anything a little of the energy feels restrained from the live show. Jay benefits from shouting above the high reaching wall of sound physically fighting with himself to will these emotions out. It still feels natural and not at all a rehearsed act.
I saw this reserved unassuming guy during the soundcheck change to someone completely given in, committed to the sound...at times, desperately screaming doubled over, bouncing up to the soundproofed ceiling...a little surprised at himself when the song was over.
Canyons completely stands up to repeated listens, every track has the same detail in construction and lyric. I find myself turning it up over and over... that's a sign for me of a great album.