Thursday, October 23, 2008

Live: A Sunny Day In Glasgow + My Teenage Stride

I arrived a little later than planned to the After The Jump CMJ Showcase at the Knitting Factory tap bar, just in time to catch what was probably the second song of the acclaimed My Teenage Stride - and boy, did we get off to a rocky start! The song was called something like "You Always Want to Dance to the Happy Mondays but You Don't Do a Thing When I Put on the Sundays" and true to its name, it was dreadful. Not only were the lyrics obnoxious, but the melodies were mind-numbingly trite. Another hyped up, disappointing band - I was determined to write a scathing review!

But much to my disappointment, I actually liked almost everything that followed. Despite horrendous acoustics in the bar, the band played tightly and looked like they were having a hell of a good time while they did it. The most notable skill of the band is their knack for arrangement and composition which kept otherwise sound-alike songs interesting. The melodies and hooks were also strong (with the exception of that "Happy Mondays" song, which I still think is unforgivable). The band may be nothing to write home about, but they are certainly a fun listen.

Following MTS came the slightly-famous, ambient electro-pop group A Sunny Day In Glasgow. The beginning of their set was marred by technical difficulties. On the first song, band leader Ben Daniels played the key parts on a sampler that was almost inaudible, and probably due to the fact that the band could not hear one another, pitch problems made the song grating. Honestly, the band deserves some credit for not completely falling apart, but I do wish Daniels would turn down his effects a tad, especially in a muddy-sounding space like this one.

In any case, the band steadily improved as the show wore on. The final song was probably the best of the set, largely to do the excellent contributions of the bass player - one of ASDIG's biggest shortcomings is that they give the audience very little to hold on to. So it was a pleasant suprise when a punchy base line grounded the final song.

The band was assaultingly loud, with suprisingly aggressive vocals on a few songs - including at least one all-out scream! This was jarring but welcome from a band I've always thought of as somewhat mellow. Let's hope this hints at a new direction for the group as they head into the studio this winter!

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