Friday, October 24, 2008

Live: Clairecords Showcase feat. Autodrone, Ifwhen, Brother Kite, Averkiou

As a part of CMJ, the wonderful Clairecords hosted a showcase of some of their finest bands from New York and beyond.

Averkiou - This quintet from Gainsville, FL, plays straight-up poppy shoegaze. They do it well, but it's nothing particularly memorable. My biggest complaint: if you're going to have three guitars, you've got make them all count. To give the band the benefit of the doubt, maybe it was the venue's poor acoustics that masked the details of the guitar arrangements - but the music I heard didn't justify the presence of so many strings, pedals and amplifiers in one place. The one major exception was the second-to-last song in the set (can anyone help me with the name?) which maintained the group's pop sensibility but showed a much higher level of musicianship and composition. If more of the bands songs had such interesting rhythms and three-guitar-worthy arrangements, they would make the leap from the high end of mediocrity to excellence at once.

Ifwhen - This is one of the most pretentious bands I've ever met, but I have to say they've earned it. I was joking recently about creating an uber-pretenious fake genre called "no-gaze," but seeing Ifwhen reminded me that it's already been invented and not as a joke. This band is, as far as I can tell, truly original - which is something I rarely say about any contemporary group. Numerous reviewers have described Ifwhen as sounding like several completely different songs are playing simulateously, and it's true, the music is remniscent of the sound when you accidentally tune into overlapping radio stations - only really fucking loud. I'm extremely dubious of artsy music like this, but there's something genuinely powerful about Ifwhen, and frankly, I am compelled to love them.

Autodrone - These kids are badass in the sweetest possible way - approachable, despite wearing a lot of black and metal and sporting the illest tatoos I've seen in a long while. The band is young and seemed refreshingly nervous to take the stage, but they had no cause for concern. The performance was spot-on, and each member showed remarkable musical prowess throughout. The music was immensely shortchanged by the venue's accoustics, which obscured much of the detailed guitar work by Jeremy Alisauskas and stripped Katherine Kennedy's voice of all the richness you can hear on the band's recordings.

The band made the best of a bad situation, though, and rocked even harder to make up for the acoustic limitations. Their set consisted of their standard shoegaze-inspired alternative rock, with definite hints of progressive influences - I'm pretty sure hear some Mars Volta in there. Their songs are catchy and engaging, but sometimes too long and lose their punchiness by the end. That's small beans though - expect big things from these guys in the near future!

The Brother Kite - Honestly, this band was a disappointment. I've really enjoyed their recorded material, but hearing them live for the first time, I was let down. Like Averkiou, their sound did not justify the presence of three guitars (one of them - for some songs, anyway - being a double-necked 12-string/6-string Epiphone). If you're going to have 30 guitar strings on stage, you've got to show you need them. The sound was less lush than I expected and I don't think the venue's poor acoustics alone are to blame. Though the songs are still well-written, the band's newer material seemed to signify a decline from their earlier efforts. The Brother Kite is still a fun listen, definitely, but at least at this show, the band sadly did not reach its potential.

No comments: