Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunset Rubdown @ the Echo

Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov’s tragic tale of art failing to overcome the control of a dictatorial Ekwilist regime, circulates around the trials of the lone hero Krug. As the leading professor under the Ekwilist regime, Krug receives notoriety for his philosophical writings and is a shining light amidst the dark clouds of homogenized mediocrity that surround him.

In today’s homogenization nation, where “indie-rock” has become a fixture of everyday life and culture, there are few guiding lights to bring us through the mist of radio friendly, lip smack, whack attack music. In the last year, within the stagnant post-Funeral era, Wolf Parade emerged promisingly with enough heroism to battle the bulge of cocky rock and FOB impersonators. One of Wolf Parade’s fears in their debut release, Apologies to the Queen Mary, was trying to sound too “indie” rather than developing a sound that was inherently specific to the band by way of chemistry and recording. Time showed that this apprehension would dissolve with the album's release.

In short, Apologies was a winning album that revolved around the powerful songs of Spencer Krug. And in these somewhat Sinister times it seems appropriate that Nabokov’s daring professor shares a name with one of the strongest songwriters of the double-oughts. In Sunset Rubdown, a solo project turned quartet, Krug evolves into a hero as he demonstrates the ability to write not only the rock song but also the drawn out, experimental discovery that sets his songwriting above the rest. On Sunset Rubdown’s latest effort, Shut Up I Am Dreaming, Krug teams up with friends to beef up his previously released home recordings along with a batch of fresh goodness. The opener, “Stadium and Shrines II,” packs enough punch to do battle with Apologies’ “I’ll Believe In Anything.” In Krug’s third attempt at the song, “Snakes Got A Leg,” he successfully combines the half-baked balladry and thump of the two previous versions into a fully cooked presentation.

Sunset Rubdown is more than just a side project; it is an opportunity to delve into the creative genius of Krug. One can hear the progression of his songs from their unrealized potential to formal pieces of art, an experience that is rarely available to the public.

At Sunset Rubdown’s show at the Echo, Krug left the tent-filled fury of Coachella behind for a more than intimate display of his solo songs. In the hour-long set, team Krug powered through the gems of the new album as well as standouts from the EP. After overly-modest introductions to almost every song, claiming the band's lack of organization and suckiness, the audience was baffled at Krug’s comments after witnessing the tightness that the band played with. This was impressive, given that Krug had just ended a tour with Wolf Parade less than 24 hours prior. Of course, there was a missed punch at the keys here and a falsetto too high there, but nothing out of the ordinary expected from a small club rock show.

If anything, Sunset Rubdown is the outlet that Krug needs to get away from the Wolf Parade limelight. For fans it is a way to more fully understand Krug and the art he creates. With the release of a Swan Lake album, Krug’s third project with Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes) and Dan Bejar (Destroyer), this fall as well as a new Wolf Parade release on the horizon, Krug will have more than enough work waiting for him to flex his songwriting muscles. Who knows, but at Krug’s pace he might become the songwriter of this generation.


Anonymous Anna Z said...

Loved how you tied in Nabokov's Krug to the review. The play on words, language and concepts, simply put- beautiful. Nabokov would be proud.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous mjrc said...

what a great review. i'm seeing them in a couple of weeks and cannot wait.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous said...

It won't work in reality, that's exactly what I consider.

12:33 PM  

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