Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Stef Reviews...Emmy the Great @ Glee Club, Birmingham

Those who read this blog regularly (maybe three of you? haha i kid i kid...two?) will know I have a fondness for Miss the Great, and tonight was the first time I've managed to catch her live, in about 4 years of fandom. With my current obsession of all things female and beautiful voiced, could there be a better act to have seen tonight?

First up were grunge-pop trio Young Husband, comprising of Emmy the Great's live band's guitarist and drummer, and another bassist, playing songs that would fit perfectly onto the 90's indie rock soundtrack of programmes such as Teachers and Asif (remember those?), with their laid back indie rock fitting somewhere in the middle of Blur and Pavement. The only criticism I had with Young Husband was that although they obviously have an ear for a catchy melody, they tend to take the melody, and add a strange chord change at the end so the melody ends on an almost sour note. Except for this occasional self-destructive tendency, they were a great little band to kick off proceedings.

Second to grace the stage were Exlovers, a band i'd recently heard good things about, and I was amazingly impressed with them tonight. Their songs were filled with sparkling guitars, beautiful male/female vocals, and the odd bit of percussion and glockenspiel. Each one of their more slower or midtempo songs were fantastic, lulling me into a lovely little dreamworld until the songs finished. However, the more uptempo songs that they played weren't as special, but held their own as tight little indie pop songs. I can't help but anticipate an LP by these, they had a lot of special moments on the glee club stage.

Finally, the main act, Emmy the Great. Starting off with just herself, a guitar and "The Hypnotist's Son", she had the audience in her hands from the start. Joined by the rest of her band, renditions of "We Almost Had A Baby" and "Dylan" followed soon in all their foot-tapping glory. A definite highlight for me was the mid-set rendition of "First Love", the title track of her recently released album, and a semi-homage to "Hallelujah" ("the original leonard cohen version" sings Emmy), with the song ending with the band playing faster and faster leaving you almost feeling breathless as the song finally comes to a halt. 

Near the end of the set, a rendition of new album track "We Are Safe" brought a song that I had previously overlooked as album filler into it's own special spotlight (listening to it now, i'm noticing how uplifting this song really is). Emmy then finished up proceedings with a solo acoustic rendition of "her first song" "Canopies and Grapes", and even though her guitar strap breaks halfway through the song ("i'll have to do this like they used to," quips the singer, "before string was invented") she continues on almost unphased, and leaves the audience feeling pretty happy I think. What a way to spend the middle of a week.

Emmy the Great's debut album "First Love" is out now. You can hear more of her here, more of Exlovers here, and more of Young Husband here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Stef Reviews...003) Two Tongues - S/T

Two Tongues is a special little album. The backstory to this involves two amazing bands in their own rights; Say Anything, and Saves The Day, and the mutual appreciation that both bands have developed for each other in the past few years.  Two Tongues is the long-awaited collaboration between both bands, with Max and Coby from Say Anything teaming up with Chris and David from Saves The Day, for 13 tracks of guitar-laden emo-punk-rock (for lack of a better genre description!)

Straightaway the album jumps into the dramatic "Crawl", showcasing straight away how Max's and Chris's unique vocal styles seem to mesh together quite awesomely. The middle eight of this song is also worth mentioning, as it's quite simply fantastic. "If I Could Make You Do Things" follows on from this, and starts off as a fairly calm duet between the two singers, before the drums kick in, bringing the rest of the distorted guitars with them, leading up to a fantastic chorus of "If I could make you, make you (GO AWAY!), If I could make you, (DO IT!)", which makes you want to sing along until the end I swear.

A beautiful little interlude track by Eisley's singer Sherri let's everyone take a bit of a breath, before the record kicks into life once again with the jagged "Tremors", which, with it's start-stop guitars, and Max Bemis's charasmatically downbeat delivery, is possibly the stand-out track of the record, and yet again, builds up to a fantastic chorus. "Silly Game" continues with the jagged guitars, and Max's vocals and words are again on top form, and will have you singing along with the "oh-oh-oh"'s in no time flat.

"Wowee Zowee" brings a bit more ROCK into the mix, as Chris Conley takes main vocal duties, with Max showing up with some gang-vocal style "Hey hey cut it out!"'s, whilst "Try Not To Save Me" brings in a mellow side to the proceedings, acting as a slow, longing confessional, with Chris's vocals almost taking on angelic qualities at times.

The record finishes up with "Even If You Don't", which is almost reminiscent of "Cars and Calories" from Saves The Day's "Stay What You Are", and whereas it sounds like a love song to a female companion, you get the feeling that the two singers might actually be declaring their mutual love of each other.

In conclusion, this is a record made with love, and if you've even heard of Say Anything or Saves The Day, I highly recommend it. Try this video out for size;