Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Ski Lodge at Glasslands Gallery 9-24-12
Imagine if The Smiths were just starting out in something like today's music environment where there are multiple ways to discover bands and the financial barriers for entry into distribution and recording are nonexistent. Imagine that you went to see them before they even had a proper full length at a smaller sized venue with a hundred people. The only reason I'm painting this ridiculous picture is because to compare a band, like Ski Lodge, to the almighty Smiths dooms them to be passed over by a lot of people. I'm just asking you, dear reader, to try your hardest to remember what it might have been like to have seen a band who once were just like any other band, who happened to have been called The Smiths and featured a lead singer named Steven. Just a collection of friends, playing together on a Monday night….the heavy reins of history stripped away.
Ski Lodge felt a lot like that band last night at Glasslands. They have a similar deceptively simple sound from a couple of rhythm guitars, playing off one another, trading leads under a heavy shining chorus. It's probably more optimistic than the usual subject matter from Moz and tracks sound written around a bouncy, melodic line that leaves the bulk of the work to the timing and vocal delivery of Andrew Marr, the solid anchor for the band. He was singing last night with a slight reverb (under crepe paper clouds) in a high indie register, drawing out phrases that complement the connecting shiny tune.
Tracks from their EP, like "A Game" and "I Would Die to Be" were delivered with their particular ease and spontaneity… they've got a catchy attitude but aren't overly selling the danceability, forcing even an obvious timing on anyone. The crowd last night was moving at all kinds of different speeds, but unable to stop themselves.
But they wouldn't be uniquely great unless they took that inherent Smiths sound as a starting point and went their own direction… and that's where this laid back, tropical style seems to kick in. The choppy, muted, almost reggae guitar rhythms and steel drum picked high notes on "The View" come off like an uncharted island soundtrack without resorting to the obvious instrumentation. In those moments they sound almost like a summery Real Estate, effortlessly happening across this catchy phrase. They make the songwriting process seem easy, because they have a natural talent for not overthinking the things that work so well, those intangible things that are equally as hard to describe when it comes to that unnamed band that humbly became an influence for everything to come after. The one I am NOT comparing to Ski Lodge.